Monday, May 11th, 2009

Miranda Lambert – Dead Flowers

Return of everyone’s favourite crazy ex-girlfriend…


Tom Ewing: I feel like the cliches in this song / It’s only three minutes but it still seems pretty long / You said your clunking metaphors were art / But I’m just a great voice singing a song without a heart / Called “Dead Flowers”

Frank Kogan: Relationship well past its use-by date, Miranda decides to shelve it (reckoning that dead flowers can’t take things off the shelf). Should’ve shelved the metaphor as well.

Ian Mathers: I’m not sure how I feel about the verses, they seem a bit too on the nose to me – “they’re sitting in the vase, but now they’re dead” YES WE GET IT. But Miranda has a lovely voice, and the chorus is moderately stunning. “I’m livin’ in a hurricane” is one of those lines that shouldn’t quite work but does, and it’s wonderful.

Alfred Soto: I swooned at the idea of Miranda Lambert wrapping her pipes around “I’ll be in my basement room with a needle and a spoon,” but this isn’t a Jagger-Richards cover: it’s Lambert fronting a stately, anonymous Faith Hill ballad. “Stately” is a word I thought I’d never use about the author of “Kerosene” and “Guilty in Here,” and Lambert was as apt to welcome dead flowers as she was to use them as a creative writing course’s idea of extended metaphor. If this is “maturity,” you’re welcome to it. Savor the small pleasures: Lambert practically reciting the opening verses, the string of old Christmas lights hanging from the house, the plod of the drums.

Jonathan Bradley: “Dead Flowers” hides a soft hurt beneath its genteel facade, and when Lambert off-handedly compares herself to a string of burned-out Christmas lights, even her rough voice and fixed stare can’t stop the track from weeping. You can’t see the tears in her eyes, but she makes the song cry.

Iain Mew: It took a couple of listens to get anything from this, but slowly the melancholy that seeps through the song sunk in, and at some point it began to really wow. There is nothing dramatic in the story, no single moment of destruction; even hurricanes are there to be unfelt. Instead it’s the slow drip of unknowing (uncaring?) lack of love that chips away bit by bit without relief. Powerful stuff carried out with heartbreaking quiet grace.

Rodney J. Greene: The words of the chorus don’t quite connect, but the lyrical turnarounds in the verses are remarkably structured. The sonics are bleary, smeared like mascara.

Edward Okulicz: After the high-octane and gasoline-soaked triumph of her last album, I’m not sure whether it’s a disappointment or a welcome surprise to hear her tackle something so slow-burning without a comic hook; here she’s burned, but she isn’t burning back. The fact that she really does have one hell of a voice and a great understanding of storytelling and dynamics makes it tempting to give the benefit of the doubt – the guitar crunch agrees. Her pronunciation of “vase” is fantastic too.

Dave Moore: Love the stark literalism in the first verse: “They been here in the kitchen and the water’s turning gray. They’re sittin’ in a vase but now they’re dead, dead flowers.” But each verse gets a little weaker as the images become metaphors and the metaphors pile on to the point of breaking. A sweet performance from Miranda, who tends to sell revenge more convincingly than regret, but in the end it’s more gray water than dead flowers.

Additional Scores

Hillary Brown: [6]
Michaelangelo Matos: [8]
Doug Robertson: [7]
Martin Skidmore: [8]

4 Responses to “Miranda Lambert – Dead Flowers”

  1. Not very controversial! I really like the song but it has to be said Tom’s blurb is very funny and kinda accurate.

  2. God bless you, Tom, for reading my mind.

  3. Every other Miranda Lambert single is an eight, nine, or TEN (“Kerosene”), but the only thing that hits me hard in this one is the wail in the chorus, and Faith or Martina would’ve delivered it better than Miranda does. I find the lyrics incredibly labored. Taylor Swift nailed the same feeling in one line (“I start a fight because I need to feel something”) that says more than Miranda was able to wrench out of this entire song. And Aly & AJ took care of a Christmas lights metaphor in one virulent line (“The lights are cool but they burn out”). Miranda herself is hardly incapable as a lyricist (“I sleep but I don’t rest,” “life ain’t hard but it’s too long/Livin’ like some country song,” etc.); maybe she was just trying too hard.

  4. Also, this is the only time in history that my rating of a country song has been or will be lower than the Jukebox average, so let’s mark the moment.