I haven’t heard a country song spin such a fantastical yet somehow believable yarn about circus folk since Kathy Mattea’s “Harley”, a fan favorite album cut from her 1991 set, Time Passes By.
Don Henry wrote that tune, and he’s a co-writer of this latest single by Miranda Lambert as well. “All Kinds of Kinds” is actually headed to country radio, giving this new tale the opportunity for a wider audience than that little-known gem from two decades ago.
For some strange reason, it takes Lambert a while to get around to releasing the best songs from her albums to radio. I’d argue that this coming on the heels of “Mama’s Broken Heart” makes this her best one-two punch since “Gunpowder & Lead” and “More Like Her.”
“All Kinds of Kinds” could have easily made its appeal for tolerance and against bigotry be populated with cardboard characters, but the writers take the wiser tack of creating complex and not necessarily likable folks to celebrate, trusting the listeners to be charmed by them anyway.
And how couldn’t we be, when Lambert sings with smirky, smiley non-judgment, aware of the absurdity of her subjects but enamored by their essential humanity.
Then again, maybe she’s just having fun singing about circus folks and a senator with secrets hanging in his closet.
Written by Philip Coleman and Don Henry
Never realized it before, but it does always take Lambert a while to get to the meat on each album: “Kerosene” was single #3 off that album, “Gunpowder & Lead” was #3 (though that album is good enough that even the less rad lead-ins were still pretty rad), “The House That Built Me” was #3, “Mama’s Broken Heart” #4. Good catch.
Definitely happy to see two strong singles close the book on the somewhat disappointing Four the Record era.
Also, weird question: in the song, do we think Phyllis the pharmacist is suppressing her actual appetite or her libido? (Because perhaps there’s an implication that Thomas[ina] isn’t into her in that way?)
I was hoping for “Same Old You” personally, given it’s more traditional country sound. However, “All Kinds of Kinds” is a great track to close out the album as well. It does a great job creating characters that you should dislike, yet you really find yourself invested in. The song as a whole, while not going into detail with each individual character, paints enough on the canvas to actually get you invested in it’s messages. In an era where vague is vogue in Nashville’s songwriting, it’s nice to hear that well written music isn’t completely gone from the mainstream.
Perfect review. I’m with you on all points.
I would’ve liked “Same Old You” to be a single too. It’s my favorite song on the album.
I was quietly longing for “Dear Diamond” or “Fine Tune” to be a single (partly because I was dying to see if radio would play them), but I’m quite happy with this. Spot-on review.
I find this song to be the best song of her recent album. It does take a while for her to get to the good stuff on her album.
Absolutely love this. One of her best IMO.
“All Kinds of Kinds” is the only song I bought on i-Tunes from “Four the Record”. I now own 4 ML songs.
Phillip Coleman, Don Henry’s co-writer on this song, also co-wrote “Cost of Livin'” with Ronnie Dunn. (Coleman wrote most of it.)
I always liked Kathy Mattea’s “Harley” and another song about circus folks, Blaine Larsen’s “Off to Join the World” (Mark D. Sanders & Shawn Camp”)
I emailed a copy of this review to a friend in NJ and he said that “They play All K of K on XM all the time”.
Adore this review. This is still my favorite song on the album, which has mostly lost its charm for me.
I still like the album. In fact, I like it better than I did when I first heard it. I guess it grew on me significantly, though it’s not my favorite of hers.
I think it’s an okay album, but I don’t find myself revisiting it particularly often. The best tracks are brilliant, but the worst tracks are unbearable.
Nicely done review here, as always, though, in this case, I agree with very little of it.
I do love that Kathy Mattea track. And album. And Mattea, generally. Have been listening to her a lot over the last couple of days since this review went up, so thanks for that!
I’d still argue at length that “Me and Charlie Talking” and “Famous in a Small Town” are among the best of Lambert’s proper radio singles. Neither is the best single from either of their parent albums, but I’d rate both of them as better than any of the singles from Four the Record, however much fun “Mama’s Broken Heart” may be.
I just don’t care much for this song. It’s always struck me as the kind of strident, concept-first-content-second writing that comes out of a creative writing workshop (see also: Taylor Swift’s “Red,” which is even weaker).
I certainly appreciate the song’s concept– and, moreover, how that concept stands in contrast to pretty well everything else on radio right now, give or take Kasey Musgraves and her inclusive POV– but I just don’t think it’s executed as well as it could be.
And, as much as I’ve gone to bat for Lambert’s interpretive skill, I don’t think this is one of her better vocal turns; there’s something a a bit too stuffy and serious in her performance for a song about circus folk.
Like most of Four the Record, I find this to be “good enough,” but Lambert is capable of far more than that. “Dear Diamond” and “Fine Tune” are the only two tracks on the album I’ve kept in steady rotation, and neither of those would stand much of a chance at radio (though the latter might garner an audience at AAA).
Hmmm…I don’t hear stuffy in Lambert’s performance on this song, especially how she sings the Tomasina line. Like Kevin, I hear smirky, smiley in her performance.
I do agree that “Famous in a Small Town” is one of her very best.
Sounds like something someone stole out of a John Prine album from long ago. See: “Big Ol’ Goofy World” or “Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone”. And that is a great thing.
…yesterday after listening to it for the first time in the context of a single being sent to radio,i found myself thinking: really?
i always liked it for its kinda irish sound pattern and its metaphorical lyrics, but more in a novelty way rather than in a absolute one.
i am quite curious to see, whether it will grow on me hearing it more often. chances are not that bad.
I enjoy Miranda’s performance on this track as well. I think it sounds very invested in the song. I also love the arrangement, particularly the mandolin fade-out.
Been gone a couple of weeks, catching up with comments. Great review on a very interesting song. I do love “Same old You” too especially the line “Boy, listen up when IM TALKING TO YOU!!!” I also love “Dear Diamond”, but my Christian upbringing was a bit shocked by “Fine Tune”. When I heard it, I was like “Did she really mean what I think she means?” : )
Great song. Makes me happy to hear something of this high a quality on country radio. Love that Lambert recorded a Don Henry song. It promoted me to pull out my copy of Henry’s LIVE AT THE BLUEBIRD album so I could hear his take on it. Such a great album.
I beg to differ, albeit slightly, on the idea that Lambert saves the best singles for later in her album cycle. “White Liar” was the second single from REVOLUTION, one of the best tracks she’s released to date, and of equal quality to “The House That Built Me.” Other than that, I completely agree with this logic.
I was secretly hoping her version of Chris Stapleton’s “Nobody’s Fool” would be the final single from FOUR THE RECORD, but “All Kind of Kinds” is a better and less bombastic choice. Both are excellent lyrics, though.
I also adore “Dear Diamond” (Ingenious Patty Loveless backing vocal anyone?) and “Same Old You,” too.
luv just about all her songs. fave is All Kind of Kinds