Album Review: Miranda Lambert, Platinum

Miranda Lambert Platinum

Miranda Lambert
Platinum

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Miranda Lambert’s life experience has caught up with her talent.

Platinum is a confident, intelligent record that weaves the themes of nostalgia, femininity, and celebrity together over sixteen tracks.  It’s a cohesive set, with lead single “Automatic” making much more sense in the context of the full album.  It’s also remarkably, defiantly country, which shows more of a rock-and-roll attitude these days than rocking out does.

Strong collaborations with Little Big Town, the Time Jumpers, and Carrie Underwood are scattered throughout, but this is fully Miranda’s show, a woman coming to terms with who she is and how it’s all connected to where she came from.   Most effectively, she’s also exploring what it means to be a woman in country music and society in general in 2014.

Part of her answer seems to be embracing the superficiality so she can ultimately subvert it.  Miranda Lambert’s fighting the good fight for women, and she’s packing some serious heat.

Standout Tracks: “Platinum”, “Little Red Wagon”, “All That’s Left” (with the Time Jumpers), “Bathroom Sink”

 

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26 Comments

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26 Responses to Album Review: Miranda Lambert, Platinum

  1. bobNo Gravatar

    I listened to the i-tunes preview of Platinum out of curiosity but i just don’t care for Miranda’s vocals. If someone else sang the same songs I might like a few of them. Last November i heard Brandy Clark sing “Mama’s Broken Heart” at the BB and liked it much better than Miranda’s recording. I really like her hubby BS’s voice but his material has been awful in recent years.

  2. I have a hard time understanding how people don’t love Miranda’s voice, but then I have to remind myself that I was one of those people when her debut album came out. I don’t understand how that could be now, but there it is.:)

    When I first heard the CMT tracks for the album before its release, I was unsure of how I felt about them, but now I’m pretty addicted to this album. I’m sure it’ll be somewhat polarizing, because it’s certainly not a traditional album, but it’s as innovative as Eric Church to me and I’m enjoying a lot of Eric Church’s music lately. It’s different, it’s eclectic, it’s smart and it’s funny. In another review that I rread (I can’t recall where), it was noted that Lambert shows a sense of humor on this album more than any of her others and I would have to agree. She does some wild things here, but it turns out that most of it works for me, even the songs that I didn’t like at first. I’d break down the songs more, but I’m guessing there will be enough discussion about this album on this thread that I’ll have a chance to weigh in on more specifically soon. My favorite songs are “Platinum”, “Little Red Wagon”, “All That’s Left” (so awesome!), “Old Sh**”, “Gravity is a B***h” “Babies Making Babies” (Though I’m confused by the Brady line). I actually think “Old S**t does a better job with the nostalgia, since it avoids being preachy and is pretty pure country to back it up. I didn’t like “Platinum” at first, but it’s become an earworm for me now and any song that can throw in so many awesome words like “irrefutably” is a winner in my book. Fun Fact: Lee Ann Womack’s daughter is one of the people singing on the song. I’ve even warmed up to the Little Big Town collaboration, though I can’t say that it’s my favorite.

  3. I’ll also add that I really enjoy the different shades in her voice on this album. I feel like she interprets her songs and characters quite brilliantly, including using sarcasm and tongue in cheek where appropriate. As harsh as it may sound, I also appreciate that no Tug-at-the-heartstring songs are included on this album.

  4. SRMNo Gravatar

    Does anyone else have images of Miss Piggy go through their heads when they hear “Little Red Wagon”?

  5. Hmmm…No, I guess I don’t.:)

    I did forget to mention, however, that “Little Red Wagon” inspired me to check out Audra Mae, the writer and original singer of the song, and she is quite good! She has a cool voice and her music is good.

  6. Hoggy from OzNo Gravatar

    Great review Kevin. I agree with the rating.

    I really like the variety and energy in this album and, unlike many of Miranda’s previous albums, the production does not get in the way of me enjoying the music.

    I don’t like “Something Bad”, but otherwise this is the kind of album I can listen to through fully numerous times.

  7. ErikNo Gravatar

    In response to the varying reactions to Miranda’s vocals, as with a lot of other things, it’s subjective; some hear a quality that they like in her vocals that others don’t much care for. I would have to say, in all good honesty, that I find her voice to be abrasive. But again, that’s just one view; others are going to feel differently, and that’s perfectly fine.

  8. Yes, of course! It’s all subjective. Tastes do vary and, of course, not everyone is going to like a singer’s voice.

  9. ADJNo Gravatar

    Solid album my Miranda. :)

  10. Susan K.No Gravatar

    I love “Girls”, “Babies Makin’ Babies” and “2 Rings Shy”, though I think “2 Rings” could have been made better with less “noise”, aka less production. I bet that will be a good one live. Excellent album, for the most part.

  11. I think I might’ve liked “Girls” better without the background peanut gallary. It made it sound a little cheesy. I agree about “Two Rings Shy.”

  12. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    ………..eh, I consider this her second-weakest album to date behind only “Kerosene” (which was also decent all things considered, just incomplete in comparison to much of her later work).

    *

    Look, this album is still better than decent to my ears, and it definitely has some great standout moments. As always, Miranda Lambert herself is the biggest strength of a Miranda Lambert album in that she has more charisma, spunk and emotional commitment to her material compared to just about any other mainstream country entertainer. She is as versatile as mainstream entertainers come as a vocalist. Fiery rockers? Check! Social commentary? Check! Vulnerable ballads? Check! She knows how to fire on all cylinders and that’s why she deserves to be where she is five albums deep.

    However, I think this album suffers from two things in particular. The first is something I already discussed in my mostly negative review of the current single “Somethin’ Bad”, and that is the uneven, jumbled production on the part of Frank Liddell. After listening to the entire album, it just lacks cohesion across sixteen (!) tracks that sum up to over an hour in runtime. There are a few moments where that traditionalist sound that suits Lambert best pops up, and yet there are also moments that are marred by either the “loudness wars” (most notably “Bathroom Sink”, the title track and, of course, the current single) or by over modes of overproduction (most notably “Smokin’ & Drinkin'” and “Another Sunday in the South”). Beyond that, however, too many of the songs follow a breezy, mid-tempo, vanilla contemporary mode that end up making too many tracks sound interchangeable……………..which is a shame because some of these tracks bolster some solid songwriting (especially “Bathroom Sink”).

    Even when it comes to songwriting, however, the decline in quality shows immediately for the simple fact that Lambert contributed to fewer tracks than before. When Lambert is engaged in the writing of lyrics, they usually winds up being among the best on any given release. And, not surprisingly, the worst songs here are also those Lambert had no hand in writing overall. (“Smokin’ & Drinkin'”, “Somethin’ Bad”, “Babies Makin’ Babies”). In contrast, most of the album’s strongest moments lyrically are Lambert co-pens (“Bathroom Sink”, “Two Rings Shy”, “Hard Stayin’ Sober”).

    *

    All in all, this is a somewhat above-average effort that nonetheless is disappointing in that it could have been a lot stronger if 1) it was a more concise album of twelve tracks or so with inferior cuts Lambert had no hand in writing omitted, and 2) Frank Liddell dialed back his old overproduction habits or Lambert else seek new producers to collaborate with.

    I’d give this album a grade of B, probably.

  13. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    As for the polarizing debate surrounding Miranda’s voice………..I personally don’t mind it, but at the same time I can understand why some consider her twang exaggerated or unnatural in some contexts.

    Why? Because as Trigger explains in a feature article just released today on Saving Country Music………..she tends to selectively use or obscure her drawl depending on the type of song she’s singing. In her fiery rockers, breezy back-porch friendly ruminations and slow-burning bluesy grooves in particular, Lambert’s accent is intact. However, when she’s singing an adult-contemporary leaning ballad or softer song, it suddenly vanishes.

    Like I’ve said, I personally have no problem with twangy vocals; even if their use is exaggerated or forced somewhat. But I can see why they are subjected to concerns of inauthenticity in some circles.

    *

    Of course, Lambert is far from alone in this. Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum does the same thing. As do Justin Moore and Craig Morgan. And, worst of all………….Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line; what with the excessive Auto-Tune and all.

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  15. I take issue with you ever putting Florida Georgia Line in a category with Miranda Lambert, Sir!:)

    Anyway, Miranda’s ability to amp up the twang and then dial it back is one of the things that endears me to this album, because I agree that it does fluctuate depending on the song. For many people, I would question the authenticity too, but for Miranda, it seems more of an interpretive tool. I love her twang and I love her phrasing instincts.

    I like “Babies Making Babies”, though, again, I’m confused by the Brady reference, since I have no idea what it’s supposed to mean in the context/I have no idea what Brady it’s referring to. Other than that, I like everything about the song, including the exaggerated twang and “couch quarter finders.”

    I’ll say that over production can be distracting on this album, especially at first, but I got used to it and even liked it, particularly when listening to the album with good headphones. “Platinum”, the song, is loud, but I think it’s in service to the song. I feel that Frank Lidell is the right producer for Lambert. While she does sound great when she’s traditional, I don’t think it’s her only, or even her best, strength and I think Lidell does a very good job of working with that with interesting productions. I like Lidell as her producer, but I’d also be interested to hear what Jay Joyce would do with her.

    I’ve been accused of being a traditionalist, but I always insisted that I wasn’t. I have no problem with other sounds seeping into country music, but I want them to be interesting and not bland, which is why Lambert and Eric Church work for me. If it’s just another poppy song categorized as country, I’m out, but if it brings something new to the table, I’m excited to embrace it and turn it up loud on my worthy headphones or speaers.

  16. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    I only compared the two entertainers on the basis of having a “twangy” vocal; nothing to do with quality! ;)

    I still stand by the comparative analysis, though. Because I can see where the criticism for BOTH vocalists in terms of how they exaggerate their twang comes from. Of course, with Tyler Hubbard, the excess Auto-Tune makes it MUCH worse! ;)

    *

    Mind you, including in the “Somethin’ Bad” discussion thread, that I didn’t dismiss Frank Liddell entirely. I hink his best work has been with Miranda Lambert, actually. When he does tinker with authentic country textures, he is absolutely effective.

    The issue is how he, like Dann Huff, has this monkey on his back that is overproduction. I think that is what made the latest efforts from David Nail and the Eli Young Band much weaker than they should have been. The former’s current album “I’m A Fire” is especially disappointing in how the overproduction doesn’t allow Nail free reign as the gifted vocalist he is, while the Eli Young Band’s chemistry as a group is short-changed by the homogenous wall-of-sound approach.

    Here, both the best and worst of Frank Liddell is intact, is my point. It’s just that, especially when your album is stretched to sixteen tracks, it all starts to sound discombulated when you have his more understated, flavorful hits and dull, cacophonous misses both on display.

  17. I definitely agree that Lidell does his best work with Lambert, but I think it shows more with her than, I think, you do. For me, the walls of sound that he uses with her is interesting and innovative rather than cacophonous, though I should say that it always does sound cacophonous to me the first time I hear it, but I tend to warm up to it. For me the difference between Dann Huff and Lidell is that Huff’s productions just sound bland to me rather than cool or fun, so they just bore me. I’ll also say that I gree with you on Lidell’s productions for David Nail and the Eli Young Band. In particular, I think I would’ve liked the Nail album if the production had been more stripped down or at least interesting.

  18. Susan K.No Gravatar

    Leeann – that’s funny about the background vocals on “Girls”. I actually thumbed through the liner notes after listening to it as I SWORE it was SheDaisy in the background. It wasn’t, but yes, I definitely get what you mean. But I guess I don’t mind Miranda getting a little cheesy on occasion – sometimes I’m in the mood for it.

  19. Susan,
    I agree. Miranda can get away with cheesy easier with me than others can, I think. I hadn’t thought of the background vocals sounding like SHeDaisy, but I totally hear what you’re saying now.:)

  20. Susan K.No Gravatar

    Oh – and I’m pretty sure she’s referring to the Brady Bunch in “Babies” – I think she’s making a loose connection with them having so many kids and being able to tough out labor. I find that to be a little strange, too. Anyhow, that’s how I interpreted it.

  21. VickiNo Gravatar

    I bought “Platinum” at the same time I bought Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds of Country Music” as well as Brandy Clark’s “12 stories” , so I hadn’t had time to give my thoughts on this album until now. “Platinum” grows on you. At first, what hits you is the sound on “Platinum” with distorted guitar and talking in the background and “Little Red Wagon” (sounds like a Blondie number), then the discussion with Beyoncé in “Priscilla” and the raw personal reflection of self in “Bathroom Sink”. Then the sassy tongue in cheek, “Old Sh*t” and with the Time Jumpers on “All that’s left is to Leave” And..well .it just keep getting better!!! What a variety of songs but yet all are so real and honest. Miranda does it again! I realize now that “Something Bad” is one of the weakest songs on the album.

  22. I wondered if that was it, but it was a poor choice/analogy, since the Brady Bunch was comprised of two people who only had three children each…

  23. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    I thought it was a reference to Tom Brady, the quarterback.

  24. I wondered that too, but not knowing anything about football, I couldn’t put together how that analogy would work either.’

  25. VickiNo Gravatar

    Watch Miranda rock out a sassy “Little Red Wagon” in Fort Walton Beach, Floridahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ABEhlAGb-Y