Miranda Lambert has made her mark on contemporary country music, with the breakout success of “Kerosene” in 2004 and the follow-up success of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Revolution” which cemented her as a player in the big leagues of country. Her fourth album, “Four the Record” (iTunes), keeps her forward motion going.
Backed by a recent nod from the Country Music Awards as the female vocalist of the year for the second year in a row, Lambert continues to be one of the most refreshing mainstream country artists.
Released just two years after the highly acclaimed “Revolution,” “Four the Record” covers all the feisty, firey bases that have always made Miranda stand out.
It wouldn’t be a Miranda Lambert album without a couple of anthems of crazed responses to heartbreak, or a whiskey-fueled night on the town, like in the sinisterly-offbeat “Mama’s Broken Heart” or the fun and fast-paced rocker “Fastest Girl In Town.”
“Mama’s Broken Heart,” with its clever lyrics, compares an enraged lovers’ breakup coping skills to that of her more proper and reserved mother.
“Fastest Girl in Town,” co-written by Lambert and Angaleena Presley of Lambert’s side project the Pistol Annies, covers a wild night with men, whiskey and cigarettes, true to form for Miranda’s loveable badass persona, but with a fresh and fun twist.
“Four the Record” also delves into the softer side of the newlywed star, with a duet between Lambert and her new husband Blake Shelton. “Oklahoma Sky” was written for the couple about starting their life together in the middle-American state, while the pop-ballad “Safe” lets listeners into Lambert’s vulnerable side. “Easy Living” is nothing more than a lighthearted, simple love song about her new life companion.
Tracks like the radio hit “Baggage Claim” and “Same Old You” tell tales of finally leaving a man after being fed up with a his cheating or drinking, but the songs are on both sides of the musical spectrum. “Baggage Claim” is a modern pop country powerhouse fit perfectly for radio airplay, while “Same Old You,” written by Brandy Carlile, seems to channel old school country mavens Patsy Cline or Tammy Wynette, with soft and simple slide guitar backing twangy and soulful vocals.
Unlike previous albums, where Lambert wrote the majority of the material, “Four The Record” features only half-written or co-written songs by Lambert, but she takes ownership of each of the carefully chosen songs she covers, pulling together an album that is strong from song to song. Whether it be rocking and whiskey soaked, offbeat and insane, straight up pop or straight up country, Miranda Lambert can handle it without missing a beat.
Reviewed by Clare Jensen