Steel Your Heart Away (Miranda Lambert, The Weight Of These Wings review)
It’s always a challenge to make a good album. And to make a great album, even tougher. But what happens when you attempt to do the ol’ double deuce for your fans? Well it can go off really well or really poorly, just a matter of perspective.
And boy does this week’s album review have it in spades.
Miranda Lambert – The Weight Of These Wings
released November 18, 2016
Miranda Lambert is an American country music singer/songwriter, and is also a member of the Pistol Annies (alongside Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley). Lambert has won seven consecutive Academy of Country Music awards for Female Vocalist of the Year, two Grammy Awards, and is the first woman to have won the County Music Association Awards Album of the Year twice.
Having recorded six studio albums to date, starting with Kerosene in 2005, Lambert is no stranger to success in the country music genre. In fact, from 2011 to 2015, Lambert was married to fellow country singer Blake Shelton.
Normally I wouldn’t really care about that last factor, but it’s important to consider within the scope of this album and it’s release date. You see, dear readers, Miranda Lambert started to write this album following the fallout of her divorce. It was July of 2016 that she released Vice, an emotional track that is something of a tearjerker for her, morally ambiguity aside. Because we don’t know what sparked the divorce, not really. After all, we all have our vices that we lean on from time to time, but she couldn’t really do anything to spread the truth out about it when she split from Shelton – that was already in the open air, the tension the anger, the emotional wreckage.
That’s the impression I get when I listen to this album over and over. And that’s something I felt necessary to do as practice, to make sure I wasn’t missing any emotions or stages of grief as she got over what had happened.
Another concept album for the year, Lambert decided to split this record up into two parts, each at twelve tracks. The first disc being labelled as The Nerve and the second, ever so clever, is The Heart.
Interestingly enough, it’s not just an album full of fears – substance abuse, cheating on a marriage an aging woman, the problems associated with touring, losing faith. No, that’s just the first half. It’s also about confronting those fears, and that’s where the second disc comes in. The ideation and definitions of this exploration by Lambert are good, but not necessarily as powerful as my favourite album of the year – Angel Olsen My Woman.
Yeah, that’s right… it could have been a tighter compilation of tracks, organized into two sections for sure, but without splitting it up over two discs and forcing me to remain aware of the run time eternally. There just seems to be a bit of fill in here. It’s hard to point out and crucify specific tracks, but the pacing feels really long and we sometimes forget the themes as a consequence.
I think you should pay attention to Vice, Tin Man, Ugly Lights, Smoking Jacket, Highway Vagabond, Pushin’ Time, Keeping The Flame and To Learn Her in particular. There are a number of great songs, that could easily make a solid singular disc, but it’s not terrible, I think you should give it a listen. Americana yes.
This is the greatest range of emotion and ability we’ve seen from Lambert yet, and in fact, I could argue it’s probably one of the best country albums I’ve heard in a long time. But the double album play somehow cheapens the weight of the work being done here. That could just be a theory though.