Monday, September 14th, 2009

Miranda Lambert – White Liar

Starting the week with a smile and a wave…


Anthony Easton: It has the same theme as her previous work, some of the same images, and is much less angry, but she has not replaced the anger with any other emotion, and that does not seem to be on purpose. But Miranda Lambert singing a medicore track still means Miranda Lambert singing, and that is one of the great pleasures of the last couple of years. This is a neutral hold for something greater to come along, but I will take it with pleasure.

Thomas Inskeep: When this song started, my first thought was: “Is she auto-tuned?!” I hate Miranda’s vocal on this song; it sounds generic in a way she never has before. The song’s no great shakes, either, generic like it could be a decade-old Terri Clark album track. I hope it’s not a hit, or it will teach her an awful lesson.

Alfred Soto: Lambert does nothing with the title trope except toss it off, and that goes to the heart of the problem with this pleasant, formulaic single. She seems to know it too: vocally she doesn’t sound engaged, as if she’s relating what happened to a friend of hers.

Chuck Eddy: Reviewed the album for Spin; her least of three thanks to her persona steering in the direction of schtick as well as too many draggy ballads especially near the end (and it’s still potentially in my top 10 of 2009, though probably closer to 20). And this revenge song is somewhere between, oh let’s say, the fourth and eighth best track out of 15. Liar liar pants on fire; what’s good for the gander is good for the goose. Has a kick, for something so trad (though Miranda tends to kick harder when she boogies); specificity of “a redhead named Bernice” doesn’t hurt. But who gets turpentine on their tongue?

Martin Kavka: Shortly after some backwards-processed pedal steel, we hear the opening line of the chorus: “the truth comes out a little at a time.” To say much more than this would be to spoil, but the ensuing narrative makes this the smartest country song to appear on the Jukebox this year. By the time the vocal portion of the song ends and the ninety-second-long instrumental jam/coda begins, I’m unsure whether the song is a celebration of revenge, or a retreat into silence which in effect admits that the satisfaction of revenge is ephemeral.

Michaelangelo Matos: “I’ve got friends in this town” has one of the more sinister undercurrents in a song lyric I’ve heard this year, but that might just be the quietly seething way she sings it, or the gathering-storm arrangement.

Matt Cibula: It all comes back around. Country’s jangle, stolen so beautifully by so many pop/rock acts, is now back in the c/w camp, almost like a drone; uptempo bluegrass, which helped shape all of rock and roll, is in full effect; the whole pushmi-pullyu of very specific weepy-yet-empowered female country is collapsed into one awe-inspiring blast. Can’t wait to hear this on the radio.

Alex Ostroff: As she chastises him for cheating with red-headed Bernice, and warns him that she “wouldn’t want to be in [his] shoes,” it’s easy to assume this is a country cliche. Then, with a minute left, Miranda flips the script. Confronted with his cheating and lying, she needs to grapple with her own. Her “why“s are as perplexed by her motivations as by his, and her ultimate bombshell is part apology, part gloating and part absolution. It’s an effective trick, changing the song’s entire context and adding emotional heft in less than 10 seconds. Not as hungry or detailed or conflicted as the best of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (“Guilty in Here”, “Famous in a Small Town”), but Lambert’s latest is textured and warm, with a story to tell.

Martin Skidmore: I’m a bit confused by the ‘white liar’ bit, in that the lies it talks about appear not to be white ones. It doesn’t quite convince, in that she is kind of threatening him, but sounds rather sweet and laid back about it. I like her voice, and the verses roll along in lively enough fashion, but the tone feels off.

Mordechai Shinefield: Lambert plays with the color of lies; white lies tend to be innocent affairs, but white is also the color of blazing hot fire, and liar/fire becomes a couplet in the chorus. Instead of hunting down her man for his liaison with a “redhead named Bernice,” though, Lambert gets revenge by insinuating she has her own lies. I prefer Lambert full of hurt and rage (and Gunpowder and Lead) to this edition; she’s not mourning any great loss here and it shows.

Edward Okulicz: Miranda Lambert is capable of such fire, venom and sweetness it is nothing short of a crushing disappointment to hear her so thoroughly bereft of any of these, and to have her voice neutered in the presence of such an unremarkable song is just a flat-out waste of time — yours listening to it, hers promoting it.

John Seroff: The traditional twang and construction of “White Liar” belies it bein’ pretty gangsta for a white gal: Lambert is gunning for emotional bear with threats (“I got friends in this town”) and sweetly hissed break-up lines. Unfortunately, her voice is a tetch too pretty and the set-up is underdeveloped; a scant two verses and a lack of, shall we say, lyrical plot development mean any emotional connection or drive the song produces is pennyweight. I would’ve much appreciated this served either fully cooked or totally raw instead of doughy at the center. Still, definitely rewards a few spins.

3 Responses to “Miranda Lambert – White Liar”

  1. hi mordy! you been here for awhile or just starting?

  2. Just starting!

  3. Is it me, or does Miranda Lambert seem to “borrow from” Alabama’s “Mountain Music”?