Ever get the feeling your referencing may have gone too far?
Alfred Soto: Using the road as a controlling conceit and the ramshackleness of the double album structure itself, The Weight of These Wings arrives with a rather unsettling confidence, the questions answered, the referent-rummaging settled: a plain sense of things. “Tin Man” looks to The Wizard of Oz for referents and to Eno-Lanois for its spare electronic background. She longs for a clear day without memories, with metal-hard skin. Thanks to her ACA performance a few weeks ago, millions saw how the longing is closer to a prayer, which means it will likely go unanswered.
Juana Giaimo: In an album that has so many songs about heartbreak, Miranda Lambert’s effort to sound deeply hurt in “Tin Man” falls flat. Her conversation doesn’t have a lot of content, except some weepy empty words that sound too forced.
Ryo Miyauchi: Never did I think I’d envy the silver wimp in The Wizard of Oz until Miranda Lambert wrote a tune to reconsider his lack of a heart as a quality to personally want. Her downtrodden voice makes heartlessness sound so freeing: you won’t have to feel one break ever again.
Will Adams: It takes a writer like Lambert to use a Wizard of Oz metaphor and not mire the song in a bunch of references; instead, she cleverly flips his narrative. The track, however, gets mired in the way-too-present synth pads. They’re deployed to create space and atmosphere, but they end up fogging the whole thing when an intimate, up-close production would have worked wonderfully.
Thomas Inskeep: “Tin Man” is so spare. It’s primarily Miranda’s pain-filled vocal, an acoustic guitar, and Lanois-esque keyboards haunting the proceedings from the back. The drums don’t even come in until halfway through the song. If you needed any (more) evidence that with The Weight of These Wings, Lambert’s become an album artist, it’s “Tin Man” being released as the album’s third single; this is such a beautiful sore thumb against the backdrop of everything else on country radio these days that I’ll be shocked if it goes top 30.
David Sheffieck: She’s as compelling here as when in revenge mode, underselling the lyric’s heartbreak and profound loss and wrenching every iota of pathos from her words. If there’s a flaw it’s that the song might’ve been improved by stripping the simple production down further; her vocal doesn’t need help to carry this story.
Joshua Copperman: I recently listened to the Emmylou Harris album Wrecking Ball for the first time, and I was struck by how influential it was on all the music I listen to, through Emmylou’s interpretations of other songs and Daniel Lanois’ reverberating production. I can hear it in Laura Marling, I can hear it in The Lone Bellow, and now I hear it in “Tin Man”. I kind of predicted the metaphor in the title before it happened (Future Islands have used it before), but Lambert and co, rather than subverting the Wizard of Oz reference, embrace it – the motivation is to make a timeless, coverable, not overtly fussy song and recording. I haven’t heard one succeed quite as much since Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up.”
William John: Positioning oneself as envious of the heartless Tin Man, a character who will never know the horrors of heartbreak, is an uncomplex, oft-used conceit. Miranda Lambert, a virtuoso of cadence and dynamics (I’m still reeling from the way she finishes the second chorus of “Vice“), erases any airs of triteness with her remarkable voice. Helmed by anyone else, this song’s wordless refrain of coos might’ve passed by nonchalantly, like any old zephyr; Lambert demonstrates that such simplicity has the power to devastate.