on November 24, 2011
Critics can be funny. Some critics have a way of reviewing an artist's new work based on expectations. When an artist turns left on a new album and those critics want/expect a left turn, then the album is great. But when an artist turns right instead, those same critics want to give mixed reviews or simply downplay the album. I believe this is the case with Miranda's Four the Record. Many of the mixed reviews come from the fact that she did things a little differently and she did it her way.
I held off from reviewing this album because I had my own expectations and Miranda didn't live up to them. However, after sitting on this album for over a week, I realize what a wonderful album it is. Its country, but Miranda is pushing country to a much needed edgy route. You can hear the growth and you sense this is a much more personal album for her. The songs are not as accessible sounding as the songs of "Revolution", but this album is much deeper.
All the songs are great, but I particularly love "All Kinds of Kinds" (the message), "Fine Tune" (you have to listen to believe it), "Fastest Girl in Town" (bad girl's anthem), "Mama's Broken Heart"(fiery), "Dear Diamond" (hardcore country), "Same Old You" (sassy), "Easy Living" (Hank would be proud of this one), "Over You"(moving) and "Better in the Long Run" (soulful). But my absolute favorite song is "Oklahoma Sky" because every time I play the song, I feel like I am on air.
I highly recommend you purchasing this album. It's the evolution of a real artist!
on November 5, 2011
Clever lyrics, gorgeous lush harmonies, and plaintive emotion make this CD a great experience. The duet with Blake Shelton is destined to become a number one hit. The song "Safe" is hauntingly beautiful. "Fastest Girl in Town" is vintage in-your-face Miranda. Whatever your mood, there is a song on this CD to match.
on December 5, 2011
Like the three albums that came before it, this one is perfection from beginning to end. Miranda Lambert is easily one of THE most talented artists in music today. Not just country music, all music. I listen to all types of music with country probably being my least favorite. I first heard/saw Miranda Lambert on TV performing "White Liar" to promote her Revolution album, and I've been hooked ever since. That is surprising since Revolution has a lot of "twang" to it, but I just love her lyrics and she is so wise beyond her years. I was not nearly so self-aware when I was in my 20's. She is the real deal; a singer/songwriter, not just a pretty girl with a voice. If you include the album she did with the "Pistol Annies"(which is also a must have, especially if you are a housewife.) she has written/co-written 5 killer albums and she is not even 30 yet!! I hope she keeps cranking out the music because I can't wait to hear more. My three year old boy/girl twins lover her too. (They really don't have a choice because we almost always listen to Miranda in the car.) My son can belt out White Liar like no other. He gets a huge smile on his face when he hears the intro to that song. He can't pronounce all the words but he gives it all he has....it's adorable!!!
If you like Miranda and don't have all her albums.......get them.
on November 9, 2011
I wish I was blake shelton... to come every night to this woman would be unbelievable! She's talented, she's beautiful, and she's got attitude. This album is just another example of how talented and amazing she truly is.. always putting out incredible tracks!! Between this new album and the pistol annies... I don't understand how one person has so much to give! Anyway, loving this cd right now and will always look forward to anything from her in the future.
on January 19, 2013
I wonder what the sound engineers were thinking when Miranda Lambert stepped into the studio to cut her 2011 album, Four the Record, which she completed in less than a week. They certainly didn't hear the rebel they might have expected. In an industry where a consistent image often provides the conceptual framework for an artist's entire recording career, Lambert's album conveys that while she's previously cultivated an image as a hard-drinking, hard-partying product of East Texas, where she is as fast as the speeding adolescents her policeman father tried to corral, ever so slowly she is realizing that she's more than that. Lambert seems to know that her talent and range can transcend that self-portrait, that there's a little tyranny in a consistent image. So does she still care about labels? Well, yes, but not so much.
Take "All Kinds of Kinds," for example. This song is a contemporary anthem in praise of our differences and the contributions of diversity to the fabric that makes us exceptional as a people. If you see the characters in the song as the left-behind, abnormal fringes of society, you've missed the point of this Phillip Coleman song. She has real empathy for the love that the acrobat has for a human cannonball and is non-judgmental regarding the still-functioning marriage between the transvestite Congressman and the drug-taking pharmacist. The antagonists, instead, are those who would seek to condemn without understanding, pompous hypocrites always in ample supply, particularly in the evangelical hinterland (cf. "bush league population sign"). Tolerance and acceptance, we can see, are often as rare as ibex sightings. "Ever since the beginning, to keep the world spinning/It takes all kinds of kinds." Indeed.
Another song away from the Lambert-as-rebel metaphor was the heartfelt "Over You," a song that Lambert wrote herself with her now-husband, Blake Shelton. The song is about the injustice of the untimely death of the young. Lyrics like "They say I'll be okay/But I'm not ever going to get over you" are as ubiquitous as re-runs of "Andy Griffith." But the plaintive, "How dare you?" brings an edge that elevates the song above the commonplace. Understandably, the song is among the top three in downloads off the album. The song was supposedly inspired by the death of Shelton's brother in a car accident, but by the time the cut was ready for production, it plays like a love song--plain, simple, and genuine.
One of my favorite songs on the album is Lambert's duet with Shelton, "Better in the Long Run," which captures the visceral and helpless feeling we all know only too well when we're in the vortex of a troubled relationship: "I can't not love you just because/You say it's better in the long run." The song works largely because the metaphors work. An evocative metaphor hits the listener a lot harder than a gaggle of whiney words and explanations: "cheap red wine straight out of a coffee cup" and "now we're out of gas and too far out of town." The theme rings true whether you're in Tupelo or Kurdistan. The song, like "Over You," is not about rebellion as much as reconciliation, of coming to terms with an ending that we fatalistically accept as inevitable but with a paradoxical sense of both immediacy and remoteness. One of the song's co-authors was Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, and there is definitely a Lady Antebellum-ish feel to the lyrics and music.
Time will tell the direction of Lambert's future work. My own forecast is partly cloudy with a slight chance of rain. If the thundershowers of her "Miranda as rebel" persona appear at all, it will be increasingly infrequently.
on November 18, 2011
Miranda Lambert's 4th studio album, "Four the Record" is what I consider to be the singer-songwriters "artistic statement". I was worried after the mainstream success of Miranda's third album, "Revolution" that she would give up her Texas country roots and make a fluffy, country pop record. But I am very happy that Miranda stayed true to her self and made an album that is very diverse and even has elements of honky-tonk and rock. The opener "All Kinds of Kinds" is the strongest track, such a beautiful and complicated song. There isn't one bad song on "Four the Record", the music and lyrics are edgy, emotional, and full of attitude. Standout tracks include: "Safe", "Mama's Broken Heart", "Diamond Ring", "Baggage Claim", "Easy Living", "Nobody's Fool", and "Oklahoma Sky". And there's also a duet with Miranda's hunky husband, Blake Shelton on the track, "Better in the Long Run". Miranda Lambert is the only country artist that doesn't make my skin crawl. I have all her albums, and they are all enjoyable and deeply meaningful. I highly recommend "Four the Record" - you won't be disappointed...enjoy!
on June 11, 2012
There's no denying that Miranda Lambert is a star (And I mean that in the artistic sense, not the Hollywood way!)....I believed that almost a decade ago, when she came in third on "Nashville Star", and I believe it even moreso now.
However, even stars are human and can fall from the sky....by pushing to get two albums out in 2011 ~ first HELL ON HEELS, her debut effort with the Pistol Annies, and then FOUR THE RECORD, her fourth solo disc, Lambert may have stretched herself a bit too thin, resulting in her weakest release to date.
Now, let me very clear about one thing.....a GOOD Ran album is still pretty much on par with a GREAT one from just about anyone else, and vocally at least, this is a very good album. Where the disc suffers is in the material.
By recording two albums in such a short period of time, it seems as if most of Lambert's best material ended up on HELL ON HEELS. Consequently (possibly due to time constraints), she only wrote or co-wrote half of FOUR's fourteen tracks. The result? A lot of songs that sound like also-rans in a "Write A Miranda Lambert Song" contest. (The fact that her previous release, 2009's stunning REVOLUTION ~ easily my Album of the Year! ~ was SO strong doesn't really help any!).
Things kick off with the charming "All Kinds Of Kinds." A lilting arrangement, spirited harmony vocals and a sweet, supple lead vocal all blend to perfection. And the lyrics....how can you NOT like a song with human cannonballs, tattooed ladies and dog-faced boys in it?!? But seriously....this is what Lambert is all about!
I wasn't nuts about "Fine Tune" at first....with it's dissonant arrangement and fuzzy lead vocal, it just seemed too clever for it's own good, like it was just being quirky for quirky's sake. But you know what? This guy grew on me....there's just something undeniably fun, fresh and funky about this cut!
The same can't be said about "Fastest Girl In Town"....we've heard this song before, and to much better effect. If Lambert is going to avoid being a one trick pony, she's going to need to find a way to expand and evolve her rebel image, while still keeping her edge. This cut doesn't do that. Not even close. Nice vocal, though.
It actually is kind of odd that FTR's two best tracks are rather low key, the first being "Safe." With it's gentle, yet propulsive, arrangement and silky lead vocal, the song just tumbles out of the speakers like a mountain stream rushing over smooth moss-covered rocks. Smart lyrics ("I wanna hold you like a handful of diamonds and pearls/That I guard with my life or die trying") top it all off. Just breath-taking!
"Mama's Broken Heart" is enjoyable, what with it's sassy lead vocal, tribal drumbeats and stinging lyrics ("Wish I could be a little less dramatic/Like a Kennedy when Camelot went down in flames"). To quote the Beach Boys...."Fun, fun, fun!!!"
"Dear Diamond" is the other solo Lambert original, and like "Safe" it has an innate honesty and grace to it. This is Lambert at her introspective best! (Special mention has to be made in regard to Patty Loveless' killer harmony vocals...a-freakin'-mazing!!).
"Same Old You" lopes along at a nice, easy-going pace. There's nothing really special about the cut, but it has an infectious little spark to it that just gets under your skin...and stays there! (The little Jewelesque vocal ad lib at the end doesn't hurt either!).
"Baggage Claim" teeters on the brink of being a tad bit too precious, with word play that is THIS close to being TOO clever, but Lambert's gutsy, in-your-face vocal saves the track. Overall though....been there, done that!
There's an easy, breezy sultriness to "Easy Living" that is just captivating. With it's sparkling arrangement and sexy lead vocal, the cut is the aural equivalent to a musical striptease. Toss in Lambert's whistle at song's end and...WOW! Nice...very, very nice!
Next up is the album's other high point, the touching "Over You." It's not until the song's last few lines that you realize that this is so much more than just a standard break-up song, but Lambert's deivery is spot-on and effortless through out. Lovely.
"Look At Miss Ohio" could have easily been a Lambert original, what with lines like "Yeah, I wanna do right, but not right now." Lambert delivers the song with a lead vocal that is equal parts relaxed, weary, sad and smooth. Another winner.
"Better In The Long Run" is a duet with husband Blake Shelton that (I hate to say it!) just doesn't work. The song is bloated and cliched, while both lead vocals are strident and almost annoying. I can't help but feel that these two can do SO much better than this clunker. One of FOUR THE RECORD's low points.
"Nobody's Fool" isn't much better....everything ~ the arrangement, the instrumentation, the vocals ~ are all over the top and unoriginal. Once again, Lambert has been here before....time to move on to other, more challenging, pastures.
Things wrap up with Allison Moorer's "Oklahoma Sky." Lambert's poignant lead vocal is top-notch, but I would have liked to have seen this album end with a bang instead of a whisper, just for something a little different.
And that's what I'm hoping for for Miranda Lambert's next release...an album of (at least mostly) original material that continues to play to her strengths while still challenging her, surprising us and, most importantly, moving her career forward. Lambert is already one of the most important, most original voices in pop music today....that's why GOOD records like FOUR THE RECORD just aren't enough.....she's capable of GREATNESS! (As with all my reviews, I'm giving the disc another half a star for including the lyrics).
on November 4, 2011
Miranda Lambert shows her evolution as an artist in her fourth album. She includes her usual "rocking" country with "Fastest Girl in Town". In turn she also has a very powerful emotion jarring song in "Over You" which could easily be equal on the charts with "The House That Built Me". A few songs are somewhat different from her usual norm; however, Miranda is true country to the roots, unlike many of the new kids in Nashville.
on February 15, 2012
I gotta say, I'm just an average fan of country music, I have broad musical tastes. Judging by the majority of the reviews on here, if you're someone who doesn't like going outside of your country- excuse me - COMFORT zone, then you'll probably not care for the first few songs. I like the album as a whole. It's fine. But I have never heard a song so sexy as Fine Tune. Not gonna say it's a masterpiece, but it's extremely catchy, sexy and oozes of atmosphere. If you're an artist and a musician like me, you'll thoroughly appreciate it. If you only drink Bud Light, you probably won't like it.
on December 8, 2011
To be fair, I am not a country music fan, however I heard a feature on NPR about Miranda Lambert and was intrigued enough to take a chance, I'm glad that I did! Yes, there is a definite country undertone to the record but there's also texture, a variety of styles that really come together in a way that defies boundaries. My favorite song so far is "Fastest Girl in Town" its a riotous and dare I say, rockin' song about a woman who makes no apologies for being who she is and in some way that's the portrait that NPR painted. The themes and lyrics of her songs are complex and show a real talent for writing in an era when there is too much bubblegum crap being passed off as talent.
If you're looking to broaden your horizons and are interested in a singer songwriter that will add some texture to your listening then here's a record to try. Its not completely country nor is it pop or rock, its Miranda Lambert and that's just what I appreciate, an individual with a story to tell. Listen. Enjoy.