Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Miranda Lambert ft. Little Big Town – Smokin’ and Drinkin’

Can you guess the theme for today?


Alfred Soto: “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” can be the title of every country song ever and quite a few pop ones, so leave it to Lambert and Little Big Town to turn this into a rueful midtempo number with a mild electronic glaze instead of a barnburner. It will not sound good at a barbecue. These are memories recollected in fear and trembling. Co-writer Shane McAnally probably has his share.

Thomas Inskeep: From day one this was the standout cut on Platinum, the one that more than any I’ve heard in years catches the existential what-are-we-doing/what-did-we-do of your late teenage years. The production is gorgeous, gauzy and memory-obscuring save for a stinging, well-placed guitar solo. Little Big Town provide absolutely perfect backgrounds, and Miranda Lambert gives one of her most assured, confident vocal performances ever.

David Sheffieck: The production conjures a wistful late-night vibe that complements the nostalgia and longing of the lyric, but I can’t get past the effect put on Lambert’s vocal in the verses. It’s like some uncanny-valley union of vocoder and multi-tracking, and while it recedes a bit on some lines to the point that I can recognize her voice, it not only overpowers whatever vocal contribution Little Big Town are supposed to bring to the song, it erases Lambert too.

Anthony Easton: Miranda Lambert’s voice is conversational, while still making the inconsequential seem profound, not leaden. Little Big Town’s harmonies and those guitars manage to be both super-loose and hyper-tight, in ways that seem almost miraculous. They work together with so little fuss and make that lack of fuss part of the point. The song sounds like the haze of cigarette smoke in a parking lot, or like a clandestine tallboy in the middle of the park in the middle of July. In February, I think it would be a few points lower. 

Maxwell Cavaseno: Summer single gold, with that muggy Rick Danko style bassline and the wistful vocals.

Ramzi Awn: On a hunch, I preemptively gave this an 8. As it turns out, if I ever decide to follow in my father’s footsteps and dabble in some gamblin’, I might not do badly. Country’s princess dots her i’s and crosses all her t’s, but the by-the-book look is not bad — the fact that “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” sounds like a song Lambert wrote five years ago is both its strength and its weakness. And the “Everything is Embarrassing” undertones bring it home.

Katherine St Asaph: The quiet-tears-by-the-corner-of-the-barbecue anthem of the summer. The strings and harmonies slip into the mix like slipping into dreams of someone wrong and gone.

Iain Mew: I’ve never smoked or been much into drinking or looking back as far as the song suggests, but she sets up its sepia car radio feel and then prods away at it so carefully and thoughtfully that it’s not hard to be affected anyway. Then comes “we were going along with what was going on and saying ‘I think I love you'” and it gets personal after all, and clearer how well it treats teenage memories with a fine mix of distance and respect.

Brad Shoup: Nicotine and alcohol came late enough for me that they don’t attach themselves to anything other than solitary times: other people’s karaoke nights at the Inn Between until 12, NBA games on Little Woodrow’s flatscreens until 2, then an unsteady drive home. The kind of hungover memory that comes from the proximity of bonfire and denim is reserved for parties in the Austin winter. I feel the sense-memory in the text, I really do, but the dreamy propulsion is what I take away, not the constant craving. The close harmonies (or is it just sloppy double-tracking) in the verses ferry like a lazy river, but it deposits me in a pleasant enough pond. My favorite detail is maybe the most damning: the way they bend the chorus — all we felt was like — to fit the rhyme. If someone tried this at the Inn Between, I’d have tried to focus my empathy, but I’d be checking the ESPN ticker before long.

Reader average: [8] (3 votes)

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5 Responses to “Miranda Lambert ft. Little Big Town – Smokin’ and Drinkin’”

  1. I’m with David; the vocal processing is so weird on this. The rest of the song is fine, would have probably 4’d it.

  2. thanks, will; i read the other blurbs looking for confirmation and was starting to wonder if i was just crazy

  3. The vocal processing is part of the distancing that the song celebrates.

  4. i tend to agree. ppl can be p weird when they’ve been smoking and drinking.

  5. It makes sense on a thematic level, but in practice it just sounds odd. There’s an inconsistency to it: at times it really sounds like Lambert is being vocoded, and at others the background vocals separate out (like the male voice doubling her at the octave below). It kept shifting back and forth which unnerved me.