In the middle of Miranda Lambert’s new album, after the big radio hit and the star wattage duet, sits the five moneymakers. These aren’t necessarily the songs that will get incessant airplay, but they are the ones that further Lambert’s artistic cause. They are the ones that prove even after the millions in record sales, the glamorized image, the tabloid-contagious marriage to country music bad boy Blake Shelton, and the slew of industry hosannas, Lambert remains a musical rebel with Texas attitude. She pours honest grit and gravitas into “Bathroom Sink,” a hard-knocks ballad about her explosive relationship with mama. She relishes the vintage in “Old Shit,” then swings it through a delicious kiss-off called “All That’s Left” featuring the fabulous Time Jumpers. Her girl-next-door wisdom goes barroom broad on the ode to aging “Gravity Is a Bitch,” and “Babies Makin’ Babies” beautifully takes a realistic look at young parenthood.
It’s no minor feat that Lambert infuses Platinum with such down-home heft as the mainstream genre she caters to revels in the insipid bro-country movement. Some may have dubbed her style “twangry,” no doubt stemming from the fiery frankness of her career-launching albums, 2005’s Kerosene and 2007’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but Lambert needs no marketing catch phrases. She’s an original who can turn in duets with plastic princess Carrie Underwood (“Somethin’ Bad”) and mellifluous vocal quartet Little Big Town (“Smokin’ and Drinkin’”) and never lose her footing. Lambert is a bad ass, plain and simple. She fearlessly tows the line without letting it erase her personality. Name dropping Shenandoah and Restless Heart while alluding to Trace Adkins and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on “Another Sunday in the South” makes her cool, not star-crossed. Reminiscing about yesterday on “Automatic,” especially when she’s only 30 years old, sounds real, not contrived. Lambert is an old soul. She is that rare female country music superstar who arrived armed with a strong foundation of traditionalism and an arsenal of sizzling self-penned tunes. Half of Platinum comes from her songbook, the rest she readily makes her own. She’s all sass and heart and high-octane artistry. — MARIO TARRADELL