Monday, March 29th, 2010

Miranda Lambert – The House That Built Me

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.

10 Responses to “Miranda Lambert – The House That Built Me”

  1. really wish i’d voted, this was a 9 for me

  2. STILL cannot believe I’m the only one who didn’t like this. Usually it’s the other way around, I’ve got my pom-poms and I’m doing the routine only to turn around and see that the rest of the squad has wandered off to smoke under the bleachers. But here…well, I feel like I would have liked a lot more in this song or a lot less.

  3. It’s okay, Matt. After Rihanna and the one song biting “Need You Tonight,” I felt like Justice Stevens.

  4. God, I really don’t know what is it about this that I just don’t get. I thought it was just plain awful. I couldn’t even listen to the whole thing

  5. Explain!

  6. Well TBH it’s mostly that I don’t like Country, really. And I don’t here anything here that stands out from the average modern Country song. Can’t really say much beyond that. Although I have to say I gave the song a second chance on good headphones and it sounded a lot better.

  7. ^”I don’t HEAR anything here”

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  9. this song surprised me when the album came out because as edward says it reads totally trite and indeed a little poshlost (though btw poshlost has all these complex and weird implications of particularly wicked and manipulative tackiness and also sometimes sexual degeneracy which i would say are avoided even in the writing here [the wickedness; we’ll leave the sexual degeneracy alone] because lambert doesn’t draw any conclusions from her melancholy and doesn’t impose any on you and is thus not selling anything, literally or ideologically, the way that e.g. 1950s american advertisement images or 1930s soviet “realist” paintings are) but as sung is very… composed, and affecting, and disciplined even. so instead of being blown into this big sapfest it always comes across to me like a pretty quiet and precise evokation of Losing Things. in fact the only place this fails is on the “brokenness” line, because that IS a little melodramatic, and of course it’s way more poignant to say that losing isn’t a disaster.

  10. I think “disciplined” is a very good word to use to describe Miranda’s particular gift, also.. what she does is acting – because she really does inhabit the roles of her songs for four minutes. And she does so very precisely. Part of my problem with the album this comes from is that she’s typecasting herself at times and retreading not the themes but the performances and nuances EXACTLY (i.e. “Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go” is “Down” Part II but not as good, “Only Prettier” sounds too much like “Dry Town”), though the second half of the album with this song, “Sin For A Sin” and “Heart Like Mine” redeem it to a large extent.