In many ways, the title of Miranda Lambert’s new album, Wildcard, is appropriate. For one, it marks her first release on Vanner Records/RCA Records Nashville. She also co-wrote all of the collection’s fourteen songs, and parted ways with her longtime producer, Frank Liddell, in favor of working with Jay Joyce. Sonically, the album also delivers on the title, showing Lambert returning to her roots as country’s femme-fatale/rebel with a cause, while also exploring her more rocking and tender sides.
For Lambert, Wildcard is quite the departure from 2017’s The Weight of These Wings. Her previous album was dark and brooding, showing the often clever songstress dismayed and different than the artist fans have come to know. “I always have a little bit of cheeky sarcasm in my songs and records. I feel like I missed that a little bit on The Weight of These Wings,” Lambert told Rolling Stone. “And I also needed to have fun. There were some fun moments on The Weight of These Wings, but just that whole portion of my life and art was not the funnest time. With this one I just wanted to cut loose a little bit and get back to the me that was willing to have fun with it and make fun of myself.”
Wildcard shows her cutting loose right out of the gate, opening with “White Trash.” It shows Lambert embracing her past and her reputation in a way that’s snarky and sarcastic. She may no longer live in a trailer park, but she’s still the same ol’ girl she always was. “I can’t keep my white trash off the lawn,” Lambert sings on the tongue-in-cheek track, “I can’t hide it in a closet/ I can’t stuff it in a trunk/ I always know there’s treasure/ Buried somewhere in the junk/ I can keep my roots from showing/ But I’m still dishwater blonde/ I can’t keep my white trash off the lawn.”
The album continues with up-tempo tracks, traversing from the poppy “Mess With My Head” with its heavy bass line to “It All Comes Out in the Wash,” which was Lambert’s first release from Wildcard. On “It All Come Out in the Wash,” Lambert sings one of country music’s most clever lines as of late, “Don’t sweat it, Tide stick’ll get it.”
Other highlights include the Gospel-tinged “Holy Water” and Lambert’s collaboration with Maren Morris on “Way Too Pretty for Prison.” The latter is a humorous take on the reasons why the duo shouldn’t kill a cheating husband. Think Brandy Clark’s “Stripes” here, as they sing “But we’re way too pretty for prison/ Hard time ain’t our kind of livin’/ And I don’t want to talk about/ The way those jumpsuits wash us out/ We’re way too pretty for prison.”
While the album is certainly a departure from Lambert’s previous downcast project, there are still moments of vulnerability and introspection. These songs include the album’s final track “Fire Escape,” “Settling Down,” “How Dare You Love,” and “Track Record.” On “Track Record,” Lambert is candid about the failures of her past relationships, owning up to her mistakes. “I can’t help it, I’m in love with love,” She admits here, recounting her failed relationships and her past as “checkered as the floor at the diner on Main Street.” “Girls like me don’t mean it,” She reasons lyrically, “But we don’t know better.”
“Bluebird” is one of the album’s most magical moments, having come from a poem. “Luke (Dick) had texted me the line from an old poem he had seen. It said something about keeping a bluebird in your heart and he said, ‘I want to write that with you because I feel like that’s what you did and that’s what we all do,’” Lambert revealed at an album preview show in Nashville, according to Billboard. “When we got in the room to write it, it felt really magical. Something about a bluebird is hopeful, even through blue times. When I sing this song, I feel a little flutter and I feel every single word I sing.”
Another highlight of the album is “Pretty Bitchin’,” which plays to Lambert’s strength as a lyricist, with an uncanny ability to turn a phrase, playing here on the word pretty. “I use what I’ve got/ I don’t let it go to waste/ I’m pretty from the back/ Kinda pretty in the face/ I hate to admit it/ But it didn’t stop me, did it? / Yeah, life’s pretty weird/ And life’s pretty great/ And life’s pretty good if we live it/ 1-2-3 Mississippi/ Sitting pretty damn pretty on this pretty life I’ve been given/ It’s pretty bitchin’.”
In fact, it’s “Pretty Bitchin'” that may best sum up Wildcard, which is, all in all, pretty bitchin’.
Wildcard Track List
1. White Trash (Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby, Laura Veltz)
2. Mess with My Head (Lambert, Dick, Hemby)
3. It All Comes Out in the Wash (Lambert, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose)
4. Settling Down (Lambert, Dick, Hemby)
5. Holy Water (Lambert, Brent Cobb, Mike Harris, Joshua Taylor)
6. Way Too Pretty for Prison with Maren Morris (Lambert, Lindsey, McKenna, Rose)
7. Locomotive (Lambert, Ashley Monroe, K.S. Rhoads)
8. Bluebird (Lambert, Dick, Hemby)
9. How Dare You Love (Lambert, Monroe, Jamie Kinney)
10. Fire Escape (Lambert, Lindsey, McKenna, Rose)
11. Pretty Bitchin’ (Lambert, Dick, Hemby, Jon Randall)
12. Tequila Does (Lambert, Randall, Jack Ingram)
13. Track Record (Lambert, Lindsey, McKenna, Rose)
14. Dark Bars (Lambert, Rose)
NYCountry Swag Picks:
1. Pretty Bitchin’
2. Track Record
4. Way Too Pretty for Prison
Lambert will kick off her Wildcard tour on January 16th in Tupelo, MS. While no New York-area shows have been announced just yet, keep an eye on NYCountry Swag for announcements. In the meantime, Lambert will hit Nashville on January 24, Dallas, TX on February 8, San Diego, CA February 21, and Vancouver, BC on April 25. Support acts on the Wildcard Tour include Elle King, Pistol Annies, LANCO, Maren Morris, Tenille Townes, Ashley McBryde, and Cody Johnson. For a full list of tour dates, visit mirandalambert.com.
Wildcard is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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