Miranda Lambert has what Mary Tyler Moore’s boss, Lou Grant, would call “spunk.”
She’s feisty, she doesn’t mince words, and she gives as good, if not better, than she gets. On album after album, she shows that beneath that toasty exterior is a heart that is very capable of being broken.
The overloaded "Platinum"— there are 16 tracks on the standard edition— is stylistically Lambert’s most diverse (and that's saying a lot given some of the adventurous turns she took on 2011's "Four The Record") : She veers into western swing on the chugging, plucky cover of Tom T. Hall’s “All That’s Left” (featuring the fantastic Time Jumpers), spoken-word blended with ‘60s psychedelia on “Red Wagon,” and rock on the thumping “Something Bad,” featuring Carrie Underwood (which comes off far better on the recorded version than the song’s live debut at the Billboard Music Awards a few weeks ago).
Lambert embraces an easier time on first single, “Automatic,” but there’s something thoroughly modern about Lambert. Though she would probably not call herself a feminist since it’s become such a loaded word lately for some reason, there is an undeniable “girl power” sentiment running throughout “Platinum” in ways both touching an hilarious.
On album opener, “Girls,” (which melodically bears a resemblance to Trisha Yearwood’s “Bus To St. Cloud”), Lambert schools a boy who knows nothing about women, especially if he thinks he can mistreat his current lady. On the title track, in an exaggerated twang, she jokes “What doesn’t kill you, makes you blonder,” in a song that Dolly Parton would have been right at home singing. “You don’t need to be a fighter, honey just go one shade lighter/you’ll acquire everything you want,” she advises.
On the infectious, jangly “Priscilla,” she examines her marriage to Blake Shelton through the filter of their being a modern day Elvis and Priscilla Presley, constantly hounded by the media. It’s lighthearted and fun, but still lands its punches about the lack of privacy and living in the spotlight.
Despite all the trappings of fame, Lambert does her level best to very convincingly imply that she is just like us: “Bathroom Sink,” an ode to those moments of utter realism we often have when we look in the mirror over the sink. The roadhouse piano track “Gravity’s A Bitch,” makes fun of aging with the undeniable refrain, “Got bags under your eyes, bigger hips and bigger thighs…you can nip and tuck and squeeze it, but you're never gonna beat it, because gravity’s a bitch.”
If the album has a failing, it’s that there’s nothing here that packs the emotional wallop of Lambert’s classic, “The House That Built Me” from “Revolution,” or the anguishing “Over You” from “Four The Record. There’s plenty to sink your emotional teeth into like the pedal-steel infused “Hard Staying Sober,” sweet “Holding on to You.” and pop country mid-tempo track, “Smokin’ and Drinkin’,” featuring Little Big Town, but nothing that will take your breath away, like those did.
However, songs like that don’t come along every day and that’s what makes them so special. instead, Lambert has crafted an album that seems to capture exactly where she is: she’s famous, but struggling to make sure it continues to be for the right thing: for her talent. And there’s no shortage of that on “Platinum.”