By Brian Ives
Bro-country? What bro-country? Well, the term has been on the minds of a lot of country fans over the past couple of years. And while guys singing about partying, trucks and girls may take up a lot of space on country radio these days, it hasn’t had much effect on Miranda Lambert.
In 2014, she put out one of the best albums of her career, which already includes a number of classics. Platinum had a great coming-of-age first single (“Automatic”), a duet with the other female solo country powerhouse (“Somethin’ Bad” with Carrie Underwood) and a song that provided the GRAMMYs with one of its most rocking moments this year (“Little Red Wagon”). Let’s unpack this a bit.
While many guys were, in fact, singing about partying and bro-in’ down, in early 2014 Lambert introduced her then-upcoming album with “Automatic,” a song that looked fondly and wistfully on the past, before the days of downloads and social media, back when you taped songs off the radio if you wanted to hear them again (and you couldn’t afford to buy them on CD or cassette), and if you wanted to send a friend a message, you might use the U.S. Postal Service to do it.
When Miranda first made her big splash with 2005’s Kerosene, she was country’s biggest hell-raiser. But she’s grown up quite a bit. Now she’s in her 30s and married (you may be familiar with her husband, too: ACM Awards co-host Blake Shelton). And her newfound maturity is reflected in the songs on Platinum as well, not only on “Automatic” but also tracks like “Bathroom Sink” (the sole song on Platinum that she composed without co-writers).
All this isn’t to say that she’s lost her fiery personality, or her sense of humor, which is on full display in “Gravity’s a B—h.” “Got bags under your eyes,” she sings. “Bigger hips and bigger thighs, you’ve got places that you can’t even itch. You can nip it, tuck it, squeeze it, but you’re never gonna beat it because gravity is a….” Well, you know.
The album isn’t all about the passage of time; Lambert’s rebel spirit blasts through in “Somethin’ Bad,” and she brings Underwood along for the ride; in the video they come off like a post-millennial Thelma and Louise.
And then there’s “Little Red Wagon,” the song which nearly blew the roof off of the GRAMMYs this past February. The ceremony was filled with gravitas and serious songs; along with AC/DC, Lambert’s “Little Red Wagon” provided one of the performances that allowed the audience to simply rock out.
There are probably several more singles to come from Platinum throughout 2015. Might we suggest “Holding on to You?”
These days, Lambert is about more than music. As always, 2014 saw her working hard to advocate for dogs via her Muttnation Foundation. And she also kept moving forward as a businesswoman. In recent years, she opened two of her Pink Pistol boutiques (one in her hometown of Tishomingo, Okla., and one in Lindale, Texas), and in 2014 she opened the Ladysmith, a bed and breakfast, that’s also located in Tishomingo.
All this led to a nomination this year for Entertainer of the Year at the 50th annual Academy of Music Awards. Watch our profile of Lambert to hear more about her accomplishments in 2014.
Miranda Lambert is currently on tour; see her website for dates.
The 50th annual ACM Awards air Sunday, April 19 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.