There is a shifting paradigm in country music and Miranda Lambert is at the forefront of it. For those of us who aren’t fans of Top 40 Country radio Lambert’s latest album, The Weight of These Wings is a deep breath of steel guitar stained fresh air. It is a 24 track masterpiece that more than sextuples her original material with 20 of the songs being written or co-authored by Lambert herself and an A-list songwriting team including Natalie Hemby, Liz Rose, Ashley Monroe and Anderson East and is rounded out by a few well chosen covers “You Wouldn’t Know Me,” by Texas troubadour Shake Russell along with “Covered Wagon” a funky 1971 track by singer/songwriter David O’Keefe.
Although heartbreak is the backbone of the album it is not your typical post breakup man hating/self pitying/revenge seeking record. Lambert started out her career singing about being a badass, not taking shit from anyone, making her own decisions and letting whatever happens, happen. Now she sings about the repercussions, she looks inward, she runs away, she comes home, she grows. Akin to Tom Petty’s Wildflowers this album mimics the messy mental state of its writer, we see instability, we see accountability, not regret but acceptance of decisions made and determination to move on, she shares her heartbreak and dares to have hope that somewhere down the road things will get better.
In my 23 years of living I have never felt more connected to an album, never felt more validated by music. It is the perfect road trip soundtrack and has been the first thing to howl out of mine and Katie’s radios at the beginning of every road trip we’ve taken since it came out last fall. The album ebbs and flows with the feelings of recovery, it is both sad and happy, both regretful of past mistakes and hopeful for a better feature. In my opinion the entire album can be summed up in the last line of the first track “Runnin Just in Case”, that features a long, swelling intro indicative of change to come and in a way it echoes the same feelings as Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down”. The song, which opens up on an empty stretch of highway, ends with “Happiness ain’t prison but there’s freedom in a broken heart”
“To Learn Her”, track seven on the second disc of the record, is perhaps one of the hardest hitting songs on the album, it is a classic country sound that harks back to George Straight, George Jones, or even Patsy Cline. From the songwriting to the pedal steel and the saloon-style piano this track pays homage to all of the greats in classic country history.
Although the meat of the album is heavy hitting and full of emotion there are several fun throw away moments, including “Pink Sunglasses” a Valley Girl turned Redneck scratchy, howling anthem. It is a pause in the more serious, reflective tracks around it, filled with electric guitars buzzing and blasting in the background. It’s the perfect track to blast out of your rolled down windows while cruising down the highway, a casual reminder to not take yourself too seriously.
Whether you are looking for the steely and fragile sounds of the past like in “Pushing Time” or something with a more modern twist like “Bad Boy” and “Six Degrees of Separation” you will certainly find that and more in this.
To improve your listening experience click the image below, this is definitely one that deserves to be heard on vinyl!