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Category Archives: curt shilling

My second contribution to 10Listens is a long (too-long) write-up regarding Miranda Lambert’s long (too-long) new album Revolution. I wanted to expand on some ideas here, considering how long (too-long) that review was already.

As an objective listener and critic, the album is a definite success–a refinement of many of her lyrical themes while also allowing for new shades to her considerable songwriting prowess. This is, without a doubt, a Next Step record: one that makes the statement, “I am everything you thought, and more.”

As a fan, however, the album is a little disappointing. For one, it is much too long, and Lambert’s insistence on proving her maturity is both unnecessary and not fun. Because part of what made Crazy Ex-Girlfriend such a great album was that for every badass pose like “Gunpowder and Lead” or the title track’s uncontrollable bouts of rage, you had a rueful almost-not-quite apologia like “More Like Her.” The balance of those extremes on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend made for a full, satisfying listen; you got the sense that Lambert was completely in control of this image as a full-bodied representation. She had a temper, but knew it had its consequences. It was a smart and effortless presentation of Lambert as an artist.

Some of Revolution seems like too much effort, like Lambert proving she can play that Nashville game by blanding out her sound on “Dead Flowers” and “White Liar,” the two awful choices for singles. I wish I’d never heard either out of the context of the album, where they provide wonderful depth and nuance to a record whose seeming sole intent is to showcase same; as singles, however, they don’t resonate at all. And I realize she didn’t want to just be seen as the Tough Gal again, but something like the rip-snortin’ “Only Prettier” or the totally classic-sounding “Me and Your Cigarettes” (the other Classic–as shown on “Famous In A Small Town,” Lambert has a knack for these–on this record is “Airstream Song,” which would never get radio play because it sounds like an old standard that Emmylou Harris would’ve popularized 35 years ago) would’ve been great choices.

But I realize a lot of those concerns are extra-musical. It’s just great to have Lambert putting some energy in country music; much like Jamey Johnson last year, Lambert is proving that being true to one’s artistic vision can lead to success in country music. Just not enough to be Carrie Underwood or Kenny Chesney. But then, artists like Lambert and Johnson wouldn’t be half as special if that’s who they were trying to be.

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I am contributing to a new website called 10 Listens, started by my buddy Jeff, and my first review is up today. I’ll say this about listening to a Yo La Tengo record ten times before reviewing it: it allowed me to get over any kind of kneejerking I had regarding this band (about whom I always felt I’d missed the boat) doing anything relevant in 2009, instead going “Oh so what?” as well as grappling through some related issues regarding my indie rock past. I don’t listen to indie rock anymore! Which is maybe why I’m down with this YLT record. But I basically feel the same way as I did to all their records: Good, kinda boring, but I appreciate it and them.

I also enjoyed getting a dig on Mets fans like me. Oh, what a terrible season it has been. You can tell how terrible because I haven’t written much about it. What is there to say beyond “Boy, we fucking suck”?

Also, Taylor Swift finally recorded something I hate.