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Miranda Lambert, ‘Four the Record’ – Album Review

Four the Record
RCA Nashville

One thought comes to mind after listening to Miranda Lambert‘s new ‘Four the Record’ album: The 27-year-old now has two of the century’s top country albums.

‘Four the Record’ is an ambitious project that comes on the back of a career defining album from the Texas born country singer. ‘Revolution’ earned Lambert so much hardware that she likely had to build a new foundation underneath her mantel. We don’t want to jinx her, but she may want to keep a contractor’s number handy.

Even in the face of songs like ‘The House That Built Me,’ this new project is Lambert’s most personal to date. It’s not easy to bare one’s soul when you know millions of people are watching and waiting to judge you, but Lambert does it over and over again on songs like ‘Over You,’ ‘Dear Diamond’ and ‘Oklahoma Sky.’ Not all of these songs are ripped from the pages of her personal life, but each feels as if she’s worn them to exhaustion. What she’s giving us is unfiltered, stripped-down emotion.

She takes chances, beginning with the second cut, ‘Fine Tune.’ The filter Lambert sings through gives the song an indie rock feel (Liz Phair, anyone?), and it really takes several listens to hear the beauty in her lyrics. Nothing else compares to this song sonically, but others — like ‘Nobody’s Fool’ — also ride along the rim of what is standard country fare. At times, listening to ‘Four the Record’ feels dangerous.

Fourteen songs is often too many for an album, but ‘Four the Record’ needs each of them to push listeners to the edge before bringing them back to what’s expected from Lambert. ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ is right down Lambert’s violent Main St., and to a lesser extent so is ‘Fastest Girl in Town.’

One misfire is ‘Easy Living.’ It’s a sweet and simple lyric sung over a swinging mid-tempo back beat, but the stereo distortion and transmitter-like distractions cause one to wonder if his radio is broken. ‘Better in the Long Run’ is also a lull. Blake Shelton isn’t as skilled at pushing limits, so this duet comes off feeling rather ordinary.

Both of these complaints are mere blemishes on an other wise brilliant project, however. One may even think of them as beauty marks.

5 Stars

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