#1 Review in America: Miranda Lambert’s “Platinum”
Miranda Lambert just released the best #1 album that I have yet to listen to as part of this series. Platinum is far and away both the best and the most downright fun album to reach the charts over the past couple of months, outdistancing a field that includes an album from my all-time musical hero, one of the most successful soundtracks ever, an album by one of the biggest and best contemporary rock bands, and Schoolboy Q’s album that features a contender for the best song of the year. And it blew Coldplay’s bah-on-an-English-muffin number one album from last week out of the water. So yeah. Platinum is a damn good album.
It all starts with Lambert’s voice. Her twang can croon or it can soar, and the entire album features Lambert’s multifaceted delivery that always remains full and rich from the high-pitched bravado of title track “Platinum” to the western swing of “All That’s Left.” And nothing goes better with a voice like Lambert’s than a Telecaster or pedal steel guitar, which always seem to come in at just the right time throughout Platinum.
Back in February, Eric Church released an album that he promised would signal the death knell for genres as we know it but instead sounded more like an attempt to sell out of every Walmart from San Antonio to Pensacola. But Lambert, not Church, actually delivers on an attempt to blend multiple genres into one album that still falls within a proud country lineage. Lambert’s album may be nostalgic with songs like “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” or lead single “Automatic,” but it’s nevertheless the most forward thinking and refreshing country album that I have heard top the charts.
Lambert shows off her Top 40 country chops with tracks like the aforementioned “Platinum” (“What doesn’t kill you / only makes you blonder”), working within the boundaries of the genre but with a Texas-sized wink at its constrictions and expectations. But she can make punk meet surf rock on “Little Red Wagon,” one of the most intriguing and fresh songs on the LP. She’s genuine on confessionals like “Bathroom Sink,” and even though 16 songs may be too many for one album, tracks like “Babies Makin’ Babies” or “Hard Staying Sober” feature some of the best musicianship Nashville has to offer, which carries the album when Lambert comes dangerously close to slipping into cliche.
But more than anything else, what makes Lambert’s Platinum the best #1 album I’ve heard since the start of this series is that it’s enjoyable to listen to. Lambert’s a singer with a voice like Dolly Parton and more dimensions than Porygon, and the result is a killer album from a rising pop country star.
Oh, also, listen to this — the Hot 8’s cover of “Sexual Healing” may be the greatest cover of any song ever. It’s featured in Jon Favreau’s stellar movie Chef. Seriously. It’s the coolest song you or I or anybody else will hear this week. Listen to this song and try to feel sad. I dare you.