Miranda Lambert “Palomino” Album Review

Country superstar Miranda Lambert’s 8th studio album “Palomino”, released last Friday, not only takes the listener on a virtual journey geographically (the album was conceptualised while touring wasn’t an option during the covid pandemic with 36 places getting a mention apparently!) but also sonically. As she tells us on the opening track “Actin’ Up”  which celebrates having the freedom to throw away inhibitions,  “I got my own kinda Country, kinda funky” and that is certainly demonstrated on this collection of 15 songs which draw on the many genres which inspire her. I absolutely love Miranda’s confidence to make music for the pure love of it, she’s not an artist who bows to external pressure which is evident more than ever on this album in my opinion and it must help that she has continued to work with longstanding friends and collaborators including Luke Dick and Jon Randall (the three co-produced the project as well as co-writing the majority of the tracks) and The Highwomen member Natalie Hemby who all totally understand where she’s coming from. To quote Natalie from a recent article in the LA Times, “People are afraid to try s*** but Miranda’s attitude has always been : hold my beer – watch this“. And Miranda herself says “The making of this record has been the most fun and creative experiences of my career “.

While her Texan Country roots of course remain the mainstay of the album and are particularly evident on songs including “Tourist”  (echoes of Stapleton’s “Traveller” here I feel) and “That’s What Makes The Jukebox Play “ they blend with a variety of genres and there’s (not exclusively!)  funk, blues and rock all coming through. I don’t know of another country artist who would have thought to cover Mick Jagger (“Wandering Spirit” ) or collaborate with The B-52’s (“Music City Queen”, a track which draws at least some inspiration from John Fogerty’s classic write “Proud Mary”) .
Subject-wise, many of the tracks are not surprisingly odes to life on the road.  I’ve already mentioned “Tourist”, the write which kicked started this project (“I’ll never be a number on a population sign”) and among the others which advocate for this travelling lifestyle is one which is really growing on me with every listen, “Pursuit of Happiness” with its bluegrass vibes…”I keep on running’, changing tires and changing plans”…

Lyrically there’s all the fun and sass we have grown to expect from Miranda with clever word play a feature throughout but also some more tender moments on tracks such as ” In His Arms” and “Carousel”.  There’s far too many favourite lines for me in just the first track alone, one of which I’ve already quoted but also include “Billy Bob Texas picking’ out new exes” and “Even Tiger Woods couldn’t swing it this good“.  I’m showing my age here but that opening guitar riff is reminiscent of “Rock On” by my teenage heartthrob David Essex!

I’m a massive fan of character-driven writes, and that’s one reason that among my favourite tracks on “Palomino” are precisely ones with that exact focus. On the wonderful afore-mentioned album closer “Carousel” with its most delicate of accompaniments we meet Elaina with her secret past life as a trapeze artist,  a song which cleverly switches narrative from third to first party.  And ” =Scenes” paints vivid little vignettes of Miranda’s travels as she tries to forget a past relationship, introducing us not only to a variety of places she passes through on her travels but also to the people she meets along the way including trucker Dwayne and Katie ( =with a K… these small details are important!). Oh and it also includes a subtle reference to Fleetwood Mac’s classic song “Dreams”. Then of course I can’t NOT mention “Geraldene” who we first met on the Grammy Nominated album “Marfa Tapes” (several of its stripped-back tracks getting a full production makeover on “Palomino“, the jury is out here on which versions I prefer) which sees a confident and feisty Miranda firing out a warning to the cigarette smoking hussy complete with her red lipstick that she definitely doesn’t see her as a threat, telling her  “you’re trailer park pretty but you’re never gonna be Jolene“. But she does admit she can see her attraction, “If I was a man I’d make you my Dallas Alice, I’d put a leftover pawn shop ring on your left hand” .

If I was pushed to pick a favourite track from this phenomenal release, for all the creativity it demonstrates I must say my love of trad country would kick in and the picture painted it “That’s What Make The Jukebox Play” would win over. I think. Today. At this precise moment.

All in all, an album that showcases the numerous talents of Miranda, one that will be on heavy rotation here for a very long time and may well steal the crown as my favourite from this multi-award winning artist who recently wowed us  here in the UK with her incredible set at C2C… she doesn’t need to be a cowboy to be the queen as far as I’m concerned. 
Stream/Download “Palomino” here https://ml.lnk.to/palomino
Palomino Track Listing 
1. Actin’ Up (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Jon Randall)
2. Scenes (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
3. In His Arms (Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall)
4. Geraldene (Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall)
5. Tourist (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
6. Music City Queen feat. The B-52’s (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
7. Strange (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
8. Wandering Spirit (Mick Jagger, James Rippeto)
9. I’ll Be Lovin’ You (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Jon Randall)
10. That’s What Makes the Jukebox Play (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
11. Country Money (Miranda Lambert, Aaron Raitiere, Mikey Reaves)
12. If I Was a Cowboy (Miranda Lambert, Jesse Frasure)
13. Waxahachie (Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall)
14. Pursuit of Happiness (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
15. Carousel (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
Review written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this product!