Miranda Lambert, "Four the Record" (RCA Nashville)
Six years after Miranda Lambert torched a new path for country music with her debut album, "Kerosene," she continues to burn through the boundaries of Nashville's Music Row by experimenting with fresh sounds and unexpected themes.
Her fourth solo album, "Four the Record," opens with "All Kinds Of Kinds," a non-judgmental song which references a congressman who is a closeted transvestite and a pharmacist who secretly feeds herself and her family pills. Next comes "Fine Tune," a tale of erotic awakening that includes an electronically-processed vocal over a woozy, bluesy pop arrangement unlike anything in country music, past or present.
In other words, Lambert continues to follow her own muse and to grow creatively — and both the Texas native and country music is better for it.
Whether she's singing about wild women ("Mama's Broken Heart," "Fastest Girl In Town"), deceitful lovers ("Same Old You," "Dear Diamond") or enduring love ("Easy Living," "Safe"), Lambert fills her new collection with bold songs that utilize sounds and images that mark her as an artist who refuses to play it safe.
But what makes "Four the Record" entertaining isn't just that Lambert is so daring; the album stands out because the chances she takes result in songs that connect on a deeper, more meaningful level than most of her contemporaries.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: On "Baggage Claim," a top 10 hit for Lambert, she shows off a strutting, soulful vocal that plays nicely off of Jay Joyce's slide acoustic guitar and Steve Winwood's Hammond organ. The result engagingly updates the southern soul of the 1960s.