Top 40 Singles of 2008: Miranda Lambert - "Gunpowder & Lead" (#9)

Miranda Lambert has had critical acclaim since she arrived with "Kerosene" in 2005.  Radio finally caught up to the platinum selling artist with this single, which deservedly became her first Top 10 single.  It's also one of 2008's greatest singles released.

“Gunpowder & Lead,” the opening track from Miranda Lambert’s critically acclaimed sophomore album Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, has personal significance. Lambert, who co-wrote the song with Heather Little, told Dial-Global that the song originally comes from the experience of sharing her childhood bedroom with abused wives and daughters that her parents sheltered. And according to an article in the Washington Post, Lambert wrote the song’s chorus while attending a concealed weapons class in East Texas. The song takes a hard look at a woman killing her abusive boyfriend and the result is Lambert’s highest charting single, peaking at Number 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Opening with a circular resonator guitar riff, Lambert’s voice vividly paints a first-person portrait of a woman on her way to kill her abusive boyfriend as soon as he’s freed from jail. “I got two miles ‘til he makes me bail/ And if I’m right we’re headed straight for hell” Lambert sings as an organ swells and drums pound before an intense chorus erupts like the shotgun blast so central to the song’s theme. “I’m gonna show him what little girls are made of – Gunpowder & Lead” Miranda sings . . . and she means it.The energy and intensity of this song, coupled with its dark lyrical theme, make it significant. There are really only about three chords here (G-F-C for those who are curious) and they constantly repeat throughout the verse and chorus. However, Lambert’s vocal conviction tinged with her biting sarcasm give the song real depth. There’s no pre-chorus or slow build-up to ease into the mayhem either. This song takes you from 0 to 100 in less time than it takes to realize how deep the hook has sunk. “Gunpowder & Lead” is a song of social awareness packaged in hook-heavy country-rock – a personal statement from a songwriter who only seems to be getting better.