Hard working country singer Miranda Lambert plays down her implacable image early on in All Kinds of Kind on album number four.
That song favours a bluegrass/traditional sound and leads into the broken, distorted Fine Tune – a nicely sleazy, sloppy mess of a song that opens Lambert’s style up to new attitudes.
And then it’s on to the tough, bad-ass country girl sound and image that Lambert cultivates so well with Fastest Girl in Town – a moonshine-driven mix of raw country-rock that’s more rock wrapped up in an outlaw package.
Besides Lambert’s righteously gritty attitude, which finds expression in her shifting songs, the most pleasing piece on Four the Record is Lambert’s way with a tune. She sounds like she doesn’t try too hard; she sings what she needs to in order to get the point across.
This isn’t because Lambert is not a fine vocalist; she is (Dear Diamond), but she also lets a song direct her to the right delivery. This is how she keeps a big number album like this one rolling along as effortlessly as it does: the trashy/comic Mama’s Broken Heart rubs naturally with the familiar twang in Same Old You.
The beat-heavy rock shouters are some of her most forceful tracks (Baggage Claim), and although these are big important songs, they don’t overshadow quieter, cooler numbers (Look at Miss Ohio).
This album hits all the places that one needs to go to and hear in a modern country album. Earthy performances, humour and tuned-in expressive songwriting elevate this recording out of the everyday. Cool and musical.
–– Dean Gordon-Smith is the longtime CD reviewer for The Morning Star. His column, Street Sounds, appears every Friday.