In other news, it turns out that we (with one notable exception) quite like the world’s second-best Lambert, too. No, not Paul…
Matt Cibula: The Russians have a great word for unearned sentimentality: poshlost. Even though I realize that country music gets a looser leash than most other genres on this score, I call poshlost on Miranda Lambert here for committing the ultimate songwriting sin: show OR tell, never both.
Chuck Eddy: Trying-to-go-home-again platitudes (and a couple decent details — that Better Homes And Gardens line) rescued by a great singer who’s been putting her rambunctiousness on a leash to avoid a dead end. Personally, I’d have preferred if she’d just kept barrelling on through. But I totally understand why she might think otherwise.
Martin Skidmore: A very sad slow number, about revisiting her childhood home. I like Lambert’s naturally husky delivery, the way she thinks and acts the lyrics rather than overemoting them. I like the simple old-fashioned C&W instrumentation. I like the telling details and find it genuinely moving — her telling the new owner “I bet you didn’t know under that live oak / My favorite dog is buried in the yard” is particularly striking. Absolutely wonderful.
Michaelangelo Matos: Her singing caught me up so that I didn’t notice till the third listen that the line about her dog being buried in the yard is, you know, pretty pro forma. Lots of this is. But she makes it all sound real, and the no-drums arrangement gives her all the room she needs.
Martin Kavka: Maybe I have a soft spot for country songs about objects and the memories they contain (for example, Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “This Shirt”), but Miranda Lambert hits this ballad out of the park. This is my new favorite Lambert ballad (replacing “Desperation”), perhaps because one of the songwriters co-wrote Bonnie Raitt’s sublime “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
Alfred Soto: Conscious of being unfamous in a small town, Lambert sullenly notes the handprint on the stairs and the dog she buried in the backyard. Don’t confuse the expression of her craft – her voice lingers over details without fetishizing them – with her pleasure in remembering a past she wants forgotten.
Anthony Easton: Not quite a melodrama, but has that countrypolitan studio magic, and how she almost talk-sings, in that accent, is foundational to a melancholy that is never explicitly expressed. Glad that she is growing up, and writing songs about growing up; though I still wonder why Swift didn’t sing this. (What exactly is the brokenness that she is talking about here?)
Edward Okulicz: Revolution was a disappointing album, but does it ever have some highs, of which this is one. This is a gorgeous, reflective ballad whose lyrics, which on paper look trite, are brought wonderfully to life with a fantastic arrangement, melody and performance from Lambert — felt without being cloying. Beautiful.