The Pollstar Field Guide To Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert
Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)
– Miranda Lambert
performs during the 55th annual Country Music Association awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 10, 2021 in Nashville.

This week’s cover artist, Miranda Lambert, just won the coveted Entertainer Of The Year award at the ACM Awards Monday night at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Although the only time she was unable to attend the ceremony in the last 17 years, the touring power-house accepted the award via video message from London. Pollstar contributing editor Holly Gleason provides a field guide to Lambert’s music, below.

A Field Guide To Miranda Lambert

Everyone knows the singles, the feisty “oh, yeah” flashpoints: “Kerosene,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and even her first No. 1 “White Liar,” where revenge is meted out like Halloween candy. Or the sparkling positivity of “Bluebird,” humor in “Not Your Mama’s Broken Heart,” frenzied stomp that’s “Little Red Wagon” or the stunning elegy “Over You.”

Lambert has always pushed the envelope, creating new strains of country. Fierce. Smart. Raw. To understand what makes her so potent for women, outliers and people following the beat of their own drummer, it’s the lesser-known tracks that define the woman who just won her first Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year Award.

“On A Greyhound Bound for Nowhere,” Kerosene

A love triangle of what can’t be, the girl with the old soul brought a knowing angst to a song about leaving a man who could never be hers. Cheating songs rarely had such pungent regret. As the bus pulls out, she leaves a man still in love behind with the woman he married. First track, very first album.

“Bring Me Down,” Kerosene

A big record with a mature vocal. Her voice stands up to a massive arrangement, outlining a sophisticated wish for a love that can’t be kicked and won’t be tamed.

“More Like Her,” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Over an acoustic guitar, Lambert’s voice is pure velvet facing the reality of a man who thought he wanted a wildfire, ultimately wants the tame thing at home. In spite of how magic it was, magic wasn’t enough; but the truth will set you free.

“Dry Town,” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Gillian Welch and David Rawling’s vexation of a town without liquor bounces on a fat bass line and some chicken-pickin’ guitar. As the steel slides and plucks, she brings a wry read to this demi-swing version.

“The House That Built Me,” Platinum

Classic James Taylor feel for a girl going home to remember who she was. The Tom Douglas-penned take on small town memories and values won every award imaginable, by invoking height marks and buried pets as it gathered up the dreams of a small family hoping for more. 

“The Airstream Song,” Revolution

This gently churning ramble is a love song to Lambert’s love of getting lost and staying gone. A wheezing accordion buoys the melody as she dreams of small haul your own trailers that afford a gypsy lifestyle that’s pure Americana.

“Only Prettier,” Revolution
Quasi-punk thromp, it rumbles through a hilarious face off with a rival by seeking common ground. Banjos twirl, the drums crash and the truculence of détente bubbles right up to the coy tag “We’re just like you… only prettier.”

“Baggage Claim,” Four The Record

The funky strumming, laced with a burning dobro and the tart stop/start syncopation offers a  perfect bed for the thrown down spunk of Lambert’s blues-tilted sass. Enough is enough, be warned, and all that baggage you’re hauling ain’t her problem. The B-3 rides on the instrumental break almost match Lambert’s verve.

“All Kinds of Kinds,” Four The Record
A drum roll, a shanty-like feel, then Lambert unfurls a cast of characters who aren’t typical, even flawed. Giving the oddballs a loving embrace, “Kinds” manifests destiny for a young woman who tosses her geometry test in the trash and seeks a different path,

“Bathroom Sink,” Platinum

Miranda Lambert
AP Photo / John Locher
– Miranda Lambert
57th ACM Awards – Show Miranda Lambert appears onscreen accepting the award for entertainer of the year remotely at the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards on Monday, March 7, 2022, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Self-reckoning, consideration and reality in the bathroom mirror. Hard truths of getting on with it ignite a track that builds to full ballast; her vocal falling into a knowing yowl of how we hurt ourselves – and rise above it – unseen, putting on our face for the day.

“Priscilla,” Platinum

Invoking George Michael’s “Faith,” Lambert tosses a jaunty conversation at Priscilla Presley, weighing the reality of being married to a superstar. Hilarious, sobering, spot-on, this skewers the truth about being the woman behind the man.

“To Learn Her,” The Weight of These Wings

A true country waltz, its pool of pedal steel tears elevate a vocal that’s raw ache. The ways to earn a woman’s love, more than obvious gestures, is knowing the broken places and rough patches.

“Use My Heart,” The Weight of These Wings

Atmospheric, a lullaby to the flinching spots. Recognizing where we falter and stumble, this is a meditation on our humanity with a pedal steel that glistens. Self-acceptance is its own freedom, especially when set to an ethereal melody.

“Locomotive,” Wildcard

Like ZZ Top with their brakes cut, a harmonica blowing hard, the sweet-voiced Lambert makes good on her wildcat bona fides. Long on down-stroked slash, the electric guitars sting — and  Stones “woo-oooo-ooooh”s on the outro. 

“Track Record,” Wildcard

Gleaming, sweeping, Christine McVie Fleetwood Mac-evoking, “Record” is a perp sheet of the hearts she’s collided with. As a woman growing up in public, there’s plenty to sort through – and with the silky vocals and quick rhythms, her confession, “I can’t help it, I’m in love with love” is an absolution for hopeless romantics everywhere.

“Dark Bars,” Wildcard

And then it’s over. “Track Record” slides into “Dark Bars,” a slow mid-tempo that is subdued and sultry. Confessing there’s nothing wrong, just something about those low light taverns where “neon truth can hit real hard.” A blessing and a benediction. Seventeen years in, some things remain the same. READ MORE: How Miranda Lambert Danced In The Flames And Became A Global Superstar (Cover Story)