Wed, Sep 30, 2009 (3:20 p.m.)
Country firebrand Miranda Lambert gets a little tamer on her third album, Revolution, toning down her lyrical rhetoric without compromising her musical integrity or her sense of self. After dispatching ex-boyfriends with shotguns on 2007’s superb Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the singer-songwriter finds herself settled down with fellow country star Blake Shelton, and so Revolution is more reflective and less vindictive. “I’m your girl, and you’re my man,” Lambert sings on the sweet if slight “Makin’ Plans,” and while it’s nice that she’s happy, some of the songs here lack the gusto of kick-ass break-up anthems like “Kerosene” and “Gunpowder & Lead.”
Lambert’s bite is still evident in plenty of places, though: “Dead Flowers” is a sharp, melancholy deconstruction of the slow end of a relationship; “Heart Like Mine” is a pointed kiss-off to those who object to Lambert’s hard-living ways; and “Only Prettier” takes on vapid stick-figure girls who look down on others. She also makes room for the playful twang of “Airstream Song” and more impeccably chosen covers, from the likes of alt-country stalwarts Julie Miller, John Prine and Fred Eaglesmith.
Revolution pushes Lambert’s rock influences further than ever before (“Maintain the Pain” and “Sin for a Sin” are basically hard-rock songs), and the loud, overstuffed production sometimes threatens to overwhelm her. But if the album is a little schizophrenic and not as forceful as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it’s because Lambert is still exploring all the facets of her craft, and she’s got plenty of ground left to cover.