On ‘Palomino,’ Miranda Lambert desires to be wild and free

Few symbols evoke the sensation of freedom higher than the wild horse, a logo baked into American mythology, significantly that of the American west. It’s acceptable, then, that Miranda Lambert, whose Texas roots run deep, would title her new album Palomino: Her eighth solo LP, the album contains 15 tracks about breaking free, whether or not working from one thing that not serves her or rushing towards one thing that does.

Despite its title, Palomino is, at its coronary heart, an album concerning the freedom afforded by the open street. Fast automobiles, a wanderer’s anonymity, seedy truck stops and the fun of road-worn risk have lengthy made fruitful fodder for Lambert and her closely narrative songwriting, although by no means a lot as on this new album, which finds the candy spot between two of her most up-to-date initiatives: 2019’s Grammy-winning, rock-influenced Wildcard and 2021’s Grammy-nominated, collaborative acoustic album, The Marfa Tapes.

Lambert produced Palomino alongside frequent collaborators Jon Randall and Luke Dick, each of whom additionally present up often throughout the LP’s songwriting credit. Randall, together with Jack Ingram, joined Lambert on The Marfa Tapes, so it is becoming that three of that album’s songs — “In His Arms,” “Geraldene” and “Waxahachie” — reappear right here, although this time in much more fleshed-out kind. Fellow shut collaborator Natalie Hemby notches a number of co-writes, too, with additional assist from Music Row mainstays Jesse Frasure (“If I Was a Cowboy”) and Aaron Raitiere and Mikey Reaves (“Country Money”). Country is the bedrock of Palomino, however Lambert and firm additionally weave soul, gospel, blues and Southern rock into the combination.

As with many 2022 releases, Palomino was born, partially, through the pandemic’s quarantine, a circumstance that bleeds into Lambert’s lyrics. Unable to tour or journey, Lambert as an alternative pays fantastical visits to such far-flung locales as Cambodia and the Mojave Desert in track, all strung collectively in a loosely conceptual journey. Over the course of her two-decade profession, Lambert has established her personal American iconography, which is particularly evident throughout this report: shiny El Caminos with tinted home windows, neon pink sunsets framed by a rearview mirror and anonymous roadside motels housing peculiar characters. Where so many nation artists are nonetheless, by some means, caught on again roads, Lambert is rushing down the interstate, chrome hubcaps kicking up mud and obscuring her view from anybody naïve sufficient to present chase.

Opener “Actin’ Up” is steeped in Lambert’s model of sass and swagger, with a low, loping riff providing a cool pocket for her playfully clipped cadence on the monitor’s verses. “Even Tiger Woods couldn’t swing it this good / I’m actin’ up,” she sings, and it is shortly evident the Lambert of Palomino has healed, or at the least moved on, from the uncooked grief displayed on 2016’s critically acclaimed The Weight of These Wings.

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“If I Was a Cowboy” contrasts Lambert’s queen of the street bravado with the stark actuality that males usually tend to be afforded such a freewheeling life-style. “If I was a cowboy, I’d be wild and free,” she sings, later encouraging a brand new era of would-be wanderers with a line that nods to Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson: “So mommas if your daughters grow up to be cowboys, so what?”

The Tom Petty-esque “Strange” comes closest to providing some sort of commentary on present occasions, with Lambert decrying “coyotes on [her] left and wolves on [her] right” and advising listeners to “do anything to keep you[rself] sane.” But just like the characters in lots of of those songs, Lambert zips previous the problems of the day in favor of escapism.

While it might not look like an apparent pairing, Lambert and beloved Athens new wave outfit The B-52s sound just like the world’s finest bar band on Palomino spotlight “Music City Queen,” a playful, propulsive jaunt about hopping on an actual riverboat in Nashville. Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson lend their trademark call-and-response vocals on the monitor’s bridge (Fred Schneider presents pleasant “She’s a showboat, baby!” interjections), with larger-than-life harmonies that join the dots between uptown artwork pop and Little Big Town.

Another standout is a canopy of “Wandering Spirit,” the title monitor off Mick Jagger‘s 1993 third solo album. Lambert stays trustworthy to Jagger’s model — nonetheless there’s the slinky, impatient electrical guitar so distinguished on the unique — tapping fellow nation singer-songwriter Sarah Buxton and Nashville gospel outfit the McCrary Sisters to up the track’s soul, for a crescendo worthy of a roadside tent revival. “Country Money” is an infectious, refreshing foil to the style’s bloated catalog of songs about lean residing, like Blake Shelton‘s cringey, out-of-touch “Minimum Wage” and Thomas Rhett’s pandering “Church Boots.” Instead of faux-lamenting the hardships of nation life, Lambert celebrates those that’d want a top-of-the-line tractor to a Tesla.

Palomino could not turn out to be a vital darling a la The Marfa Tapes or The Weight of These Wings, but it surely presents an album-length have a look at what makes Lambert’s finest songs work so properly: a wholesome dose of freewheeling enjoyable. As she places it herself, typically Lambert simply must act up.

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