Album Review: Miranda Lambert – Wildcard

Miranda Lambert once again delivers a record every girl can fall in love with.

Country music’s kick-ass superstar Miranda Lambert is releasing her new record Wildcard on 1 November via Sony. It marks her first collaboration with producer Jay Joyce and sees her revealing a gentler, more folk side of her music, never losing her signature wit and tongue-in-cheek humor throughout the record.

“When people listen to this record, I want them to know that I see them and hear them. I feel you because I’m just a girl from East Texas, writing about all the things that go on in my world and in the worlds of people around me. I want people to get along, you know, just be who you are, own it and move on from the moments you couldn’t live in.”

Wildcard starts things off with the catchy White Trash, reminding of Lambert’s country-rock sound, the track is a cheeky play on Lambert’s upbringing in a trailer park and how “white trash” habits have stuck with her even when she’s being the glam country chick we know and love. “I can’t keep my roots from showing, but I’m still dishwater blonde. I can’t keep my white trash off the lawn.” she sings in the chorus. The banjo-picking paired with stomping country beats lay out the perfect base sound for the story Lambert is telling us.

The opener is followed by single Mess With My Head, which in its production is sleeker and more modern, quite pop-y actually. The hints of 80’s synths and voice distorters lead nicely into the pop-rock chorus. Similar to Mess With My Head, It All Comes Out In The Wash has that mainstream appeal but is much more country in sound and lyrics. The song is one you’ll want to play out loud when you’re hanging with your girlfriends. It’s that strong female attitude we love so much about the singer, singing about that no matter how messy life gets “it’ll all come out in the wash” – just put that sucker on spin.

With Settling Down Lambert takes it down a notch, the song talks about making the choice between settling down or staying wild. It’s about having found someone to settle down with but wondering if you can give up the life you’re used to even if the prospect of comfort is tempting and deciding “is it happiness on the highway or is it parked in the driveway”. From where we stand, Lambert makes both sides sound pretty sweet.

Let’s talk about Holy Water – here the singer experiments with gospel sounds, and with it takes us right to church, though that church might be a bar. As she has many times before, Miranda Lambert creates a picture with this track where the gospel choir, melody and southern guitar has us centered somewhere in the middle of Texas on the frontyard of our house with a bottle of whiskey.

Speaking of painting a picture with songs, Way Too Pretty For Prison with Maren Morris is another prime example. This could easily be the follow up to Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats, just that Miranda and Maren may have hired a contract killer for the cheater. But even if orange is the new black, the lack of lash extensions, no shaving, and most importantly no rhinestones or wine, the girls decide to better not do it.

But it isn’t all funny lines and strong female leads, How Dare You Love shows Lambert from a very vulnerable side. The slow number is all about falling in love and the inability to fight it off when it hits you hard. Backed just by a few acoustic guitars it’s an instant classic. Fire Escape is another beautiful ballad on Wildcard that has a slightly darker sound with just as much of a wonderful set of lyrics.

Not all slow songs are love songs, necessarily. Tequila Does is a love song, dedicated to the legendary Mexican booze. It is also a celebration of good old fashioned country songs. “Tequila Does is country. And country music makes me happy,” said Lambert of the track. “No matter how rock or edgy or scorned you can get, when you come back to a country song with a steel guitar, it makes my soul feel like it’s on fire.”

Now, if you ever needed an anthem for you and your girlfriends, Miranda Lambert has just the song for you. Pretty Bitchin’ is a positive reminder that actually things are pretty good aka bitchin’ if you think about it. The song’s anthemic chorus makes us want to turn up the volume and drive down the highway in a Cadillac convertible.

Finishing off Wildcard is the eerie Dark Bars. Slide guitars and slow melodies drape the story of the character in a bar seeking refuge from the world and hanging with those doing the same. The last-minute of the track is like a soft send-off, into the day or night, to leave you to reminisce about the album, the lyrics, the melodies. And then to pull you right back and press play all over again.

Country music has always had some of the strongest female songwriters across genres, but in the last decade or so we seem to have been blessed with a myriad of strong, female singers and songwriters who combine being brilliant, talented, gorgeous and smart all into some seriously great art. What female country music stars, especially Miranda Lambert, have done recently is delivered us with artists that are feminist and beautiful and strong. And quite honestly more genres could do with these kinds of female singers.

With Wildcard, Miranda Lambert has given us another record to love. Another record to play with our girlfriends. Another record to play to our daughters. Another record to play to ourselves. Delivering relatable stories, catchy melodies and tracks that do more than just tell a tale, they play out little movies in your head.