Miranda Lambert’s ‘Wildcard’ In the Round Review

Miranda Lambert is one of the true stars of the country music scene, and there was incredible anticipation for her new ‘Wildcard’ album ahead of its launch last weekend. Having had a week to digest the album, four members of the Belles and Gals team have collected together and given us their view of four individual tracks from the album:

Holy Water – Samantha Melrose (twitter.com/smelrose93)

This southern gospel, country blues track combines church choir harmonies, slide guitar, a classic rock beat, mixed in with those raspy vocals all while embracing Miranda’s Texan roots. Intrigue had me playing it on repeat. It combines so many wonderful parts of everything quintessentially Miranda Lambert but the mix of all the above meant I couldn’t quite put my finger exactly on what was making it work… but that’s exactly why it works so well. All of these elements make it entirely seductive, you just need to hear it one more time. You can’t have a Miranda song without her classic one liners ‘So tell the bank man to cash your pay-check so you can piss in a pot’ but this is part of what makes her irresistibly enchanting. She’s not afraid to say something controversial or something that strays from
the stereotype. To quote Caylee Hammack this track made me ‘wanna take my bra off and swing it around above my head’. Quite honestly this has to be one of my favourites from the album, and the variety within this album is what had and still has me listening to it over and over again. Since her last release Miranda has been through some pretty public breakups, and then married for a second time, but this seems to have given her a new lease of life and a recipe for some fresh material. If you don’t love it already, it’s certainly a grower!

White Trash – Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)

I’m finally on the up and upMiranda sings in the very first line of this song which opens “Wildcard”. And yes, since her last release “Weight Of These Wings“, a largely contemplative album for reasons that don’t need any explanation, she has moved on. Positive, playful Miranda is back and her country/rock side is to the fore once more on many of these fourteen tracks , including this one which pays homage to her roots which will always be an integral part of her despite her wealth and success . While she may have traded in her trailer park for a neighbourhood with a gate, and barbed wire for a white picket fence, she is not trying to hide where she has come from… ”I can’t keep my white trash off the lawn”. Delivered with her trademark attitude it’s a great way to kick off the album in my opinion and while it may not necessarily be my favourite from “Wildcard” that’s why I’ve picked it for this review!

A co-write with Natalie Hemby, Luke Dick (who both contributed to several other tracks on this album and incidentally also collaborated with Miranda on “Highway Vagabond” and “Pink Sunglasses” ) and Laura Veltz ( a name you may be most familiar with thanks to her contributions to Maren Morris’ “Hero” album), its lyrics contain a lot of the humour and honesty that makes me love Miranda’s music so much even if they lack the clever word play elsewhere on the album. Lines such as “Doghair on the Restoration Hardware, who says you can’t have nice things?” ( I had a google and according to Wiki, RH is an upscale American home-furnishing company… and of course Miranda’s love for her pets and tireless work for her charity MuttNation is legendary) and ”Got more rooms than the Joneses, y’all , and I’m still addin’ on” are just two of the many examples.
It is given the high energy production I feel it needs by producer Jay Joyce, who Miranda is working with for the first time (another example maybe of her looking at fresh beginnings in her life?) and he certainly appears to be the “go to” producer for many female country artists these days, with upcoming releases from Ashley Mcbryde, Brandy Clark and Tenille Townes all seeing him at the helm. Yes, this particular track is one of several which definitely seems to have everything thrown at it, a cacophony of sound with drums and electric guitar particularly dominant and practically drowning out the banjo which is a shame, but Miranda’s vocals are always easily audible. Basically, i just love it for its fun element!

It All Comes Out in the Wash – Craig Brooks (twitter.com/swindonforever)

Perhaps somewhat astoundingly I’ve never actually sat down and listened to Miranda Lambert properly before, not sure how I managed this being a frequent Nashville traveller but on the other hand it was really interesting to sit down and take in a track of Miranda’s without really having a pre conceived notion of her sound.

There’s a real upbeat energy about the guitars/drums right from the beginning which peaked my interest as a ‘newbie’ and this energy doesn’t lessen at all as the song goes on. Co-written with the ‘Love Junkies’ (Liz Rose, Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey), this track is a lively foot tapper with a real kick to it that will undoubtedly be stuck in your head for a long time. Miranda’s vocals are excellent and really add to that authentic storytelling that makes country music so wonderful. With lyrics like “Cause it’ll all come out, all come out in the wash It’ll all come out, all come out in the wash, Every little stain, every little heartbreak, no matter how messy it got You take the sin and the men and you throw ’em all in and you put that sucker on spin” ‘It All Comes Out In The Wash’ seems to tell the tale of no matter what happens in life and whatever scrapes you get into it’ll all be alright in the end.

Something I love about the song is that not only is it a great listen if you’re already in the mood to party but it’ll be also be a great listen for anyone that is letting life worries get on top of them. This track definitely has a rightful place on what is a very strong album.

Tequila Does – Nick Cantwell (twitter.com/nickbelles_gals)

In some ways, ‘Tequila Does’ is the most traditional country song on the whole album, with that brilliant pedal steel and acoustic guitar sound. The song is made interesting by the contrast between the tempo of the verses and the chorus – a slow, almost waltz-like sound in the verses, where Miranda does an incredible job of telling the story of the song, and then the up tempo chorus where you can’t help but singalong to ‘Cause he don’t love me like tequila does, Nobody can, He don’t give me that border town buzz, Like tequila does‘.

The song, which was the seventh to be released ahead of ‘Wildcard’, has been described by Miranda herself as a ‘classic honky tonk song’ and contains the similar wry humour that is displayed throughout much of the album (and indeed throughout much of Miranda’s career) – and suggesting that Tequila will cut it when a partner doesn’t. For some reason I’m always drawn to the ‘drink’ related songs of Miranda Lambert (‘Ugly Lights’ was my favourite song on previous album ‘The Weight of These Wings’), where the singer displays a brilliant ability to sing about real life with songs that are relatable to all.

Tequila Does was written by Miranda alongside long time collabarators Jon Randall and Jack Ingram.

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