“The Weight of These Wings”
THE GRADE A
BOTTOM LINE An ambitious country masterpiece disguised as a breakup album.
There are two ways to look at Miranda Lambert’s stunning new double album, “The Weight of These Wings” (Vanner/RCA Nashville) — short term or long term.
The short-term view is pretty obvious. It’s Lambert’s first release since her very public divorce from Blake Shelton and its 24 tracks — split into two halves, “The Nerve” and “The Heart” — are filled with references to breakups and relationship pitfalls, though there are plenty of good times, too.
The wrenching “Tin Man,” where Lambert tells the “Wizard of Oz” character how lucky he is to never feel heartbreak is as potent as anything from post-breakup Adele or breakup-considering Beyoncé. “You can take mine if you want it, it’s in pieces now,” Lambert sings, balancing resolve and pain over spare acoustic guitar backup and haunting echoes. “You give me your armor, you can have my heart.”
The gorgeous “Getaway Driver,” a sun-kissed slice of California country that sounds like it could have come from the Eagles just as easily as from Lambert and boyfriend Anderson East, pairs perfectly with the ache of her current single “Vice,” with its forward-thinking production and vintage trappings.
However, considering “The Weight of These Wings” purely as a comment on Lambert’s relationships misses the long view. Years from now, people will simply marvel at the way Lambert, who wrote or co-wrote 20 of the 24 tracks, crystallized all sorts of country influences — from classic Dolly Parton to the stadium-rock feel of her touring pal Kenny Chesney — into something that’s all her own.
Even songs that would previously been considered “classic Miranda” like the playful “Pink Sunglasses” and “Smoking Jacket” have a new, more accomplished feel. Lambert doesn’t sound like the wild-eyed girl from “Kerosene” when she knowingly sings “If you use alcohol as a sedative and ‘bless your heart’ as a negative” in “We Should Be Friends.” She sounds like the promising artist who has finally arrived.