A lot has changed for Miranda Lambert since she released Platinum in 2014. She’s gone through heart breaking divorce and circled the wagons as she’s regrouped with the mature and diverse album that is The Weight Of These Wings. A large double album, The Weight Of These Wings is broken up into “The Nerve” and “The Heart,” sides with distinctive themes which dance around the divorce without really being explicitly or overtly about him (or are they?). No matter why or who the songs are about, they are the clear focus here.
“The Nerve”’s twelve tracks opens with “Runnin’ Just In Case” and it’s not your typical modern mainstream country album opener. It’s more of a down-tempo mission statement where Miranda is running from settling down because whenever she has, she seemingly has gotten burned from it “Highway Vagabonds,” a rockin’ little number which is one of only four songs not to feature Miranda’s name as a co-writer or sole writer. Written by her longtime friend Natalie Hemby with Shane McAnally and Luke Dick, “Highway Vagabonds” feels like a concert staple while “Ugly Lights” (written with Hemby and Liz Rose) finds Miranda Lambert not wanting to deal with her relationship problems (or those of the man she’s hiding from) and she also clings to the fact that she’s not going to change for anyone or anything and that her “Ugly Lights” will keep her at the bar until last call. There are pointed observations about men (with pockets full of rings) who hang out at bars looking for girls to have flings with. “We Should Be Friends” is a funky bass heavy groove fest which feels like a classic Miranda Lambert song (she wrote it by herself) and it could very well be a big hit for her (it’s single #2 after “Vice”) from this record. The song is a proclamation about all she requires in someone to be her friend.
“Getaway Driver” is a nice mid-tempo ballad written with Anderson East and Natalie Hemby and it’s all about being a good supportive friend for someone in need, when they need. “Use My Heart” is an interesting song in that it’s about a woman who cannot shake the last love even though emotions from their relationship now make her feel sick. “Tin Man” is obviously about a woman who feels jilted and broken over relationships gone bad. “Things That Break” continues the theme with a Beatles-like melody and a chorus that feels like it could have the song become some sort of hit or classic down the line. “For The Birds” is also very strong with a classic sounding melody and a lyric that has proclamations about many things.
It’ll be a hard go of it to pick singles from a 24 song album but “Tomboy” could very well be one. The lyrics and melody feel radio ready though more in a “Petty-ish” kind of feel and story than some throw away ditty. Same could be said about “Bad Boy,” a bluesy tune and “Keeper Of The Flame,” a mid tempo tune that’s sort of an answer song to the classic “Who Will Fill Their Shoes.” The Weight Of These Wings is an interesting collection of songs. It’s a record that may not be as mainstream as some would probably like. And if that ultimately does Miranda Lambert in with country radio gatekeepers, it feels like she may just be fine with that as she continues to make music that matters. Music that relates to life and isn’t an abstract collection of sunshine and roses and good times but instead a thoughtful collection about life and relationships; The good and the (mostly) bad sides of them.