Miranda Lambert doesn’t suffer fools. Remember her first big hit, 2005’s ”Kerosene,” where she got back at a two-timing ex by burning down his house? You might not think a woman like that would be capable of laughing things off. But on Platinum, an old-school country wisecracker that’s one of her all-time bests, she’s funny as hell.
Lambert co-wrote most of the album, and her one-liners rank alongside Dolly Parton’s classics and your favorite novelty joke books. On the dry-witted title track, she claims that she dyes her hair platinum to match her records because ”what doesn’t kill you/Only makes you blonder.” (Somebody please embroider that on a tie-front top!) The Western-saloon- style ”Gravity’s a Bitch” finds her thinking about getting older and saggier, anticipating those years when you fall on your ass and ”you wonder, ‘How the hell’d it get down here?’ ” But she saves her best zingers for the cheeky two-step ”Priscilla,” in which she begs Priscilla Presley for advice on staying ”married to a man who’s married to attention.” (The real Mr. Miranda Lambert, country heartthrob and Voice coach Blake Shelton, probably choked on his sarsaparilla when he heard that.) Reading through the tabloids, Lambert makes light of rumors that her guy isn’t faithful: ”We had to put up a gate/ To find time to procreate/At least that’s what I read…. Didn’t know I was his bodyguard/ And I shouldn’t have to play the part/At least when we’re not in bed.”
”Priscilla” isn’t just another one of those cheatin’-heart revenge songs that Lambert does so well. It’s a straight-talk session between two grown women. Lambert has said that turning 30 last year made her feel more accountable for her actions, and Platinum sounds like the work of an artist who’s bent on making her own decisions — whether that means trading pop-country for bluegrass (”All That’s Left”), oompah (”Two Rings Shy”), and Appalachian folk (”Old Sh!t”) or choosing a radio single that’s not a love song. ”Automatic” has her railing against instant-gratification culture — a thoughtful argument, but maybe not a popular one among fans who just want something to blast while they’re pounding Randaritas at ladies’ night.
And yet, deep down, Platinum is still a girl’s-girl album. At a time when the country charts are stuffed with baseball-capped dudes begging ladies to get into their trucks, that’s part of what makes it so fresh. Lambert mostly works with female songwriters here, including Ashley Monroe, Natalie Hemby, and Nicolle Galyon, and the latter two tackle young parenthood so vividly on ”Babies Makin’ Babies,” you can practically hear the Maytag microwave humming in the background. Lambert plays the perfect Thelma to Carrie Underwood’s Louise on the scorcher ”Somethin’ Bad,” and her cover of Audra Mae’s ”Little Red Wagon” feels like a sisterly bump for the undersung starlet. With a snarl that’s as close to punk-rock as she gets, Lambert tells some guy who wants to cast her as his sidekick that she’s the real star between them: ”When I’m walkin’, jaws droppin’ like ooohh!” she brags. There’s just enough swagger to suggest that she got it wrong about her marriage to Shelton. She’s not Priscilla. She’s Elvis. A