The record kicks off with the current single “White Liar” and the song immediately announces Miranda Lambert’s new record as the product of somebody who is fiercely independent about her choices. The next track on the album feels like a classic country song yet has fuzzy rock guitars to balance out the melody as Miranda sings a song to those girls who always get what they want. The song –one of four Natalie Hemby co-writes– is barely three minutes long and with a message most girls will love, there’s little doubt that the song could be a big ole hit at radio. First single “Dead Flowers,” may have stalled inside the Top 40 of country radio but the song remains one of Miranda’s best-written songs and it also may be the strongest vocal performance from ‘Ran to date.
“Maintain The Pain” has some cool 80’s style phaser-laden guitar tricks and interesting fiddle fills that back up a moody, familiar melody that retains the touchstone songs from the past few albums and works well here as a moody album track while Fred Eaglesmith’s “Time To Get A Gun” is an absolutely classic country rocker Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas are the only outside ‘nashville’ songwriters to place a song on Miranda Lambert’s record and their song, “The House That Built Me” is one of the absolute best songs on the record. Soft and reflective, the song finds Miranda singing of the home that she grew-up in and how many great memories she has in the ‘house that built me.’ It could’ve easily have been a bombastic, overdone song however Miranda and her producers Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke manage to keep the song earthy and just downright beautiful.
Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley co-wrote “Love Song” with Miranda and her boyfriend Blake Shelton. And in a somewhat not so strange way, the song feels as if it is about Blake himself. While being another case where Miranda gets to show off her newfound range, the song never gets too loud (like many country songs do these days) and the up-tempo ballad could have a future place on the radio dial, if other songs from this record manage to run up the charts. John Prine’s “That’s The Way Love Goes ‘Round” is another showcase of Miranda’s strong sense of song and what will work for her and this interesting story song rocks along with interesting instrumental performances.
While Miranda Lambert might not ever be the kind of popular crossover artist that Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift are, she may not really want that as much as she wants to have a steady country/rock career where she can maintain the fierce independence (as much as a major label probably can give an artist) that has allowed her to move beyond her reality tv beginnings into a complete compelling artist who has yet to make a bad record.