There are some albums that just seem to drop out of the sky with little or no announcement and then there are those albums which are talked about for weeks and months. ‘The Weight of These Wings’ was one of the latter, with a real buzz surrounding the album ever since the brilliant single ‘Vice’ was released. I’ve never seen such a build up to an album before, even the name of the album and the release of the album cover being greeted with zeal on social media. The singer has had difficult moments in her life in the last few years and Miranda Lambert is nothing but honest in her song writing, so it seemed in some ways that this album was going to be a career-defining one. So here was the question. Does ‘The Weight of Those Wings’ live up to this expectation?
The album starts with ‘Runnin’ Just in Case’. This song starts with a 45 second intro which builds slowly adding to the anticipation of the last few months and then Miranda delivers the killer opening line “There’s trouble where I’m going but I’m gonna go there anyway” and you already know that the early glimpse you had of the album with “Vice” is going to be a good representation of the album as a whole. This opener is simply brilliant, building and building with the distinctive vocals of Miranda Lambert telling the story of the song. The song ends just as strongly as it starts, the line ‘There’s freedom in a broken heart’ abruptly ending this first number perfectly. For an opening track, it doesn’t get any better.
The first ‘side’ of the album is called ‘The Nerve’ and contains 12 tracks in all. ‘Ugly Lights’ is just a wonderfully woven tale of drunken nights and hangovers that you can’t help but turn the volume up on and play over and over again. ‘You Wouldn’t Know Me’ isn’t penned by Miranda (Shake Russell wrote it in 1996) but she has claimed this break-up song for herself, this high tempo track just grabbing you from start to finish.
‘We Should Be Friends’ is another immediate highlight, this song lyrically brilliant and smile inducing throughout. ‘Pink Sunglasses’ is a unique, fun song that maybe isn’t for the purists, but certainly grabs you and this catchy number stays with you.
Other highlights on ‘The Nerve’ include ‘Pushin’ Time’ which she sings with Anderson East, a beautiful, heartfelt song that could grace any album. ‘Vice’ is followed by ‘Smoking Jacket’ and these two songs work together brilliantly, both dark, both atmospheric and both stunning. The first half of the album finishes with ‘Use My Heart’, a classic country song with the brilliantly understated line “I don’t give two shits no more, or so I say, it wouldn’t make a difference to you away”.
‘The Heart’ opens up with ‘Tin Man’, a reference to the character from Oz and how lucky he is not to have a heart. This song is just heart-breaking throughout and you’re left in no doubt whatsoever about some of the pain the singer has suffered in recent years. I have no doubt that we’ll all look back at this song as an absolute classic in years to come – it’s that good.
‘Things That Break’ is a wonderful song that has a real vintage feel – it may not grab you the first time you hear it, but it will grab you and when it does it grabs you hard. Both ‘Well Rested’ and ‘To Learn Her’ are slower songs where Miranda Lambert’s impeccable vocals come to the fore. ‘Keeper of the Flame’ is a nod to all of the songwriters that came before, a brilliant anthemic song that I just cannot wait to hear her sing live.
At the start of ‘Bad Boy’ Miranda asks ‘What’s the Intro?’, before singing about being attracted to those in the title and ‘Dear Old Sun’ is a brilliant and beautiful ode to the sun and a longing for the brighter days that lay ahead.
The album comes to a close with “I’ve Got Wheels’ and has a similar ‘road song’ theme as the opener of the album, although this closing song has a more optimistic air, summed up by the perfect, album-title giving lyric…
“Sometimes these wings, Get a little heavy, And I can’t stay between the lines, But I’m rockin’ steady”.
At the start of this review I asked if ‘The Weight of These Wings’ would live up to expectation. The answer is a resounding yes, but it achieves so much more than that. This is an album that is just stunning from start to finish musically, but it also tells you a story which you find yourself completely immersed in. Miranda Lambert is the central character of this story and you find yourself willing her on throughout to a happy ending.
If there was any doubt before, it’s clear that Miranda Lambert sits at the very summit of the country music industry right now. Man, are we lucky to have her.