Our first ever taste of Miranda Lambert without perma-fabulous Frank Liddell behind the production wheel is a scary concept. Of course, we’ve never been in doubts about Lambert’s abilities as a musician in every sense of the word. Album after album she’s had us floored with her Madonna-esque ability to convince, no matter what mood she attributes to her output at the time. Scorned firebrand? Watch out. Introspective, piano-adorned balladeer? Cry your eyes out. Watchful and wise grown-up with some real good advice? We’ll queue around the block. It’s a career built on risk and revolution, but when she publicly announced that this time she was shaking things up, what did it mean? She’s never had to TELL us that before…
So: Jay Joyce. Country’s adopted favourite rock producer, responsible for the best output from Eric Church, Little Big Town, and more recently, Brothers Osborne and Ashley McBryde. A critic’s darling if ever there was one. “Jay and I had some new chemistry. Sometimes you have to shake it up.” While he’s used to working with artists approaching Lambert’s calibre, if anyone was going to push him to his limits, it’s her. Just how good is it? Today, we found out, with ‘It All Comes Out In The Wash’ and the previously performed ‘Locomotive’. Two very different bases are covered here, both as adeptly as the other.
As a lead single, ‘It All Comes Out In The Wash’ is somewhat typical Miranda fare, applicable to radio, as she’s known for fruitful chart debuts. Yet here, she sounds more youthful and renewed than she has in some time. Her last album was full of pain, and the one prior to that was a sagely, contemplative look at turning 30. Her voice is high-pitched, happy and girlish, and it feels like a continuation of her last music video, 2017’s underrated ‘We Should Be Friends’, albeit more assured of itself. This time around, she doesn’t feel the pressure to convince the listener of her deservedness to be accepted for her humanity. She inflects a signature Lori McKenna dose of realism with just the right amount of crazy, unashamed of her shortcomings and holding no detail back in the interests of public persona.
‘Locomotive’ rocks HARD. Bar 2014’s ‘Somethin’ Bad’, the successful yet underwhelming collaboration between country’s leading ladies of the past decade and a half, Lambert hasn’t roared this loud since, arguably, ‘Gunpowder & Lead’. This’ll be a riot live, all unforgiving growls, snarling guitar licks and killer melody, a speedy little singalong chorus with unyielding attitude she has never been so unapologetic for. A refreshing return to the scorned firebrand mood we mentioned earlier.
Lambert can never do right by everyone. Comment sections below articles about her are plagued with holier-than-thou folks condemning what they’re so sure are the unspoken details of her private life, acting as though she’s not amongst the best the genre has to offer. This is the most exciting set of lead singles that 2019 has offered us so far, and we’re on the edge of our seats, ready for the next swig.