‘Wildcard’ is an emotional whirlwind

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vanner Records | Reproduced with Permission

Country music singer Miranda Lambert released her seventh studio album on Nov. 1. Wildcard is a collection of musical vignettes full of spunk and grit, performed with the emotional range of a professional actress. 

Running at 48 minutes, at no point does the album feel rushed or long-winded. The artist gives herself enough space to dissect each feeling and experience. Whether she’s belting a verse about a cheating scoundrel or reminiscing about the simplicity of young love, she takes her time. She completes each thought, punctuates it and then moves onto the next. 

Listening to the album is like listening to a collection of letters from one’s mother read aloud. Some of the songs are filled with anecdotal wisdom. In “It All Comes Out in the Wash,” Lambert utilizes soiled laundry as a metaphor for faux pas and tarnished relationships. With time and a little hard work, any problem can be resolved. Others present the listener with worldly accounts. In “Tequila Does” the singer compares her relationships with men to one of her favorite alcoholic spirits, tequila. She concludes that liquor is more reliable than her male dates. 

Lambert has also experienced her fair share of heartbreaks, the most public being her divorce from pop-country music icon Blake Shelton in 2015. Her music is a reflection of her tumultuous affair with love and resilience as a strong, independent woman. 

In the duet “Way Too Pretty for Prison,” accompanied by country singer Maren Morris, Lambert takes a comedic approach to the revenge narrative. The two consider whether they should murder a cheating significant other. They hesitate when they consider how unglamorous prison will be. “Hard time ain’t our kind of livin’, / And I don’t wanna talk about/ The way those jumpsuits wash us out.” The song is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. It’s a true crime podcast episode that never happens. 

The opening song “White Trash” is about the conflict between outward presentations and internal truths. Lambert sings “Traded in my trailer park for a neighborhood with a gate/ Queen finally got her castle.” The song is about identity and connection to home. Although she is satisfied with her financial security, she refuses to forget where she came from. She realizes that no matter how much she tries to fit in with the highbrow, glamorous people of show business, she will always be influenced by her past. 

The closing number “Dark Bars” is stripped-back and reflective. The artist comes from a place of nonjudgemental maturity when she sings “I’m not in pain, I’m not on pills ... Watchin’ drunks all drown with no lifeguard/ ‘Cause I know a thing or two about broke hearts.” She is simultaneously able to be completely engaged and emotionally distant. 

Wildcard's chock-full of songs that are sure to resonate with music lovers young and old. 

Her lyrics are relatable because she sings about universal problems. Many people have experienced heartbreak, yearned to return to the arms of a long-lost lover all the while knowing it’s a bad idea and found more solace in a predictable bottle of booze than an irritating lover. An individual doesn’t have to love country music to find her songs enjoyable and easy to listen to. 

It’s only a matter of time before people start requesting these songs in Nashville honky-tonks and Austin karaoke bars. 

Rating: 4.5/5