Album Review: Miranda Lambert’s ‘The Weight of These Wings’

Emotions run deep on Miranda Lambert’s double album, The Weight of These Wings, released Friday (Nov. 18). The album features two discs of 24 songs that showcase the singer’s adept songwriting. While Lambert co-wrote eight of the 12 tracks on “The Nerve” side, she penned all 12 songs featured on “The Heart” portion.

“It’s part of your being to have nerve at all. And if you’re gonna have it, you’re gonna feel some pain from it. But you’re gonna feel some great stuff too,” she says. “I love that imagination is connected with heart. You would think it’s just your creative brain, but it really starts in your heart.”

Lambert opens her heart to listeners throughout the album’s 24 tracks and The Weight of These Wings is the most honest we’ve ever heard the singer. While some may try to read in between the lines to figure out which songs are about ex-husband Blake Shelton, this isn’t that album. Instead, it is an album from a woman who admits her faults, details heartbreak, and shares the happiness she feels with the new man in her life. The lyrics are thoughtful and deep with sensitive Miranda being more apparent than the gun-slinging hell raiser we’ve witnessed on early releases.

The first disc on the release is “The Nerve,” which kicks off with 45-seconds of haunting instrumentals before Lambert enters on “Runnin’ Just In Case.” Four-and-a-half minutes of pure honesty, she sings about life on the road and running away from love. “It ain’t love that I’m chasing but I’m runnin’ just in case,” she says. Later, she notes, “Happiness ain’t prison but there’s freedom in a broken heart.”

Miranda Lambert, 'The Weight of These Wings,' Cover art courtesy Sony Music Nashville

Miranda Lambert, ‘The Weight of These Wings,’ Cover art courtesy Sony Music Nashville

Heartbreak is a theme throughout much of the album, but it’s not cry in your beer country songs. Instead, it’s a woman looking inside herself and recognizing that sometimes she drinks too much and goes for the bad boys, but all the while she learns her lesson with each wrong turn.

While “Highway Vagabond” brings the mystique, the sultry “Smoking Jacket” is Lambert like we’ve never heard her before. Co-written with Natalie Hemby and Lucie Silvas, “Smoking Jacket” showcases her deeper and ethereal vocal style while the slowed music accompaniment only helps to boost the track’s memorable factor. Meanwhile, the standout “Pushin’ Time” is a sweet ballad that discusses her new love for boyfriend Anderson East and features him on harmonies. A song that has her questioning if they fell too fast, she opens up about their relationship.

“They say only time can tell / you already know me well / if it has to end in tears / I hope it’s in 60 years,” she sings alongside light pedal steel accompaniment.

On the second disc, “The Heart,” Lambert once again shares her heartache and doubts on moving forward with new love. Opening track “Tin Man” has her advising the Tin Man that he shouldn’t want a heart, but if he does she’ll gladly trade her broken one for his armor. The stripped down song is as vulnerable as she gets on the release.

“Hey there Mr. Tin Man you don’t know how lucky you are / shouldn’t spend your whole life wishin’ for something bound to fall apart / every time you’re feeling empty better thank your lucky stars / if you ever felt one breaking you’d never want a heart,” she laments. “This love is so damn hard, take it from me darlin’ . . . you can take mine if you want it, it’s in pieces now.”

Later, on “Well Rested,” she apologizes that she is still trying to find her way. “Don’t waste your investment with a heart that ain’t well rested,” she reasons on the song, penned with Anderson East and Aaron Raitiere. Meanwhile, the old-timey “To Learn Her” sounds like a song Patsy Cline would have recorded. Written with longtime friend and collaborator Ashley Monroe and Waylon Payne, it’s a song that showcases Lambert’s roots and her passion for those who came before her.

While the introspective and sometimes somber songs are plenty, Lambert hasn’t lost her fiery persona. This is highlighted on “Keeper of the Flame” where she promises that she is stronger than she feels and later on the fun “Bad Boy” where she finds herself beside a man that her mother warned her to avoid. All the while, she does exactly how she pleases and doesn’t apologize. Instead, she figures out life through each mistake how the rest of us do. Lucky for us, she’s able to write it all down and teach us some lessons within her songs.

“I’ve got wheels. I’m rollin’ on,” she concedes on last track “I’ve Got Wheels.” Thankfully for Lambert fans, she continues to share her journey in song form and as long as she keeps writing, we’ll all keep listening.