Since rising to fame on the first season of Nashville star in 2003 where she finished in third place, Miranda Lambert has established herself as one of the most successful female artists in Country music. After signing to a major label, Lambert has seen all of her studio albums certified platinum in the US and she’s enjoyed four number one singles. Two years after her last studio album Platinum, Lambert returns with two-disc epic The Weight of These Wings.
For The Weight of These Wings Lambert has written or co-written 20 of the 24 tracks. The album is split into two sides – The Nerve and The Heart – and the mood is decidedly mellow, which may surprise some fans of the singer. The focus here is on the lyrics and keeping things simple. The balls out rockier moments Lambert has become known for on her past records are absent and it makes a refreshing change.
It would have been easy for Lambert to record a mopey break-up record but she’s far too smart for that. It’s true that The Weight of These Wings deals with heartbreak but it doesn’t particularly dwell in that area. Lyrically the album could be Lambert’s most honest and musically it’s her most organic. Lead single Vice is one of the most commercial of the tracks included on this collection and it was the perfect choice to launch the record. The track feels familiar for long-time fans of Lambert and her vocals are stunning on it. However, it’s not one of the best songs on the record and once you dig in there’s much to discover.
The raw electric guitar that drives Ugly Lights signals one of the first highlights on the record. Lambert sings about drowning her sorrows in a bar, drinking far past the point of needing any more alcohol. She’s admittedly a hot mess on the track and you can’t help but relate to her. Who hasn’t dealt with the blows that life gives them by trying to drink it away? Another highlight on the first disc is the low-key but seductive rhythm of Smoking Jacket, which was co-written by Lucie Silvas. Lambert uses her voice in a restrained way as she lays out her wishes for the kind of man she wants in her life.
Elsewhere on The Nerve Lambert throws back to traditional Country on the bouncy You Wouldn’t Know Me, sings about the virtues of hiding your true emotions behind a pair of sunglasses on Pink Sunglasses, and ramps up the tempo on a cover of Danny O’Keefe’s Covered Wagon.
The second disc – The Heart – is the more introspective of the two. It deals with heartbreak as well as moving on. The gentle Tin Man opens the disc with Lambert seemingly reflecting on the breakdown of her marriage to Blake Shelton. Highlight Things That Break is a moment where Lambert sings about moving past her pain and learning from her mistakes.
Anderson East, Lambert’s boyfriend and fellow musician, features on and co-wrote Well-Rested. The song takes Lambert into East’s more bluesy world and it’s one of the best songs on the record. Lambert sounds incredible on the track and East’s harmony vocals add a layer of warmth to it. Elsewhere Keeper of the Flame is an anthem celebrating Lambert’s resilience and strength, Six Degrees of Separation seems to be borne out of the frustration of not being able to get away from an ex despite having moved on, and Dear Old Sun is a simple song full of harmony vocals.
I’ve not always been the biggest fan of Miranda Lambert and sometimes I’ve been left scratching my head as to what all the fuss is about. The Weight of These Wings has changed that situation for me. It’s an honest depiction of a difficult period in Lambert’s life and it takes you on a journey that starts in heartbreak but ends positively looking to the future. The Weight of These Wings could be the best record that Lambert has recorded and it’s one that got under my skin from the very first listen.
Track List: Disc 1 – 1. Runnin’ Just In Case 2. Highway Vagabond 3. Ugly Lights 4. You Wouldn’t Know Me 5. We Should Be Friends 6. Pink Sunglasses 7. Getaway Driver 8. Vice 9. Smoking Jacket 10. Pushin’ Time 11. Covered Wagon 12. Use My Heart Disc 2 – 1. Tin Man 2. Good Ol’ Days 3. Things That Break 4. For The Birds 5. Well-Rested 6. Tomboy 7. To Learn Her 8. Keeper of the Flame 9. Bad Boy 10. Six Degrees of Separation 11. Dear Old Sun 12. I’ve Got Wheels Record Company: Vanner Records / RCA Release Date: 18th November 2016