By Amanda Wicks
Distilling Miranda Lambert’s sixth studio album The Weight of These Wings down to five best songs seems like a high water task, especially considering there are a whopping 24 options to contend with on the double album.
Pain resonates through nearly every track, as Lambert makes sense of the wreckage of her life and, more likely, the end of her marriage. The speculation about how her latest songwriting relates to her ex-husband Blake Shelton will likely color people’s perceptions of The Weight of These Wings, but Lambert’s pluck and grit shouldn’t be overlooked. She’s as strong as they come, even if her cracks might show more than ever.
5. “Getaway Driver”
Co-written with current beau Anderson East and her regular co-writing partner Natalie Hemby, “Getaway Driver” is a shimmering ballad about commitment no matter the costs. The Weight of These Wings comes packed full of songs about driving, rambling, and other forms of getting away–moving beyond the past and all its problems–and “Getaway Driver” embodies all of those themes. Sung about a woman who must keep running, Lambert takes on the part of the “getaway driver,” ready to go at any signal.
4. “Use My Heart”
There will be many songs on the album that cause listeners to think Lambert’s subject matter is Shelton and the end of their marriage, but “Use My Heart” might be the most barebones of them all. It’s a bruised song, slow and still somehow sumptuous, but it’s the lyricism that stands out. “I don’t give two s—s no more, or so I say/ It wouldn’t make a difference to you anyway/ The thought of lovin’ you just makes sick / I don’t have the nerve to use my heart,” Lambert sings, giving a nod to the name of the album’s first part, The Nerve, all while being as blunt about “that certain someone” as she possibly can.
3. “Six Degrees of Separation”
Off The Heart, “Six Degrees of Separation” picks up on the album’s theme of movement, but instead of finding Lambert running, it reveals how she can’t escape her past no matter where she goes. Lambert’s vocals strain on the chorus from the exasperation of it all. “I’m out of your reach geographically/ You still find a way to get a hold of me,” she sings. Lambert has found a way to pinpoint the heartache and frustration that occurs when reminders about the past exist everywhere.
2. “To Learn Her”
When Lambert goes old school, she produces sheer gold. Off the album’s second part, The Heart, “To Learn Her” is a beautiful throwback that feels straight out of a Nashville honky-tonk… that is, if the dance floor segued from a two-step to a slow dance. Between the slide guitar and Lambert’s molasses-like vocals, the song is a warning about love and loving. She paints a pretty picture only to rip it to pieces with the last line of the chorus, “To love her is to learn her/ Some things you just can’t learn.”
1. “Runnin’ Just In Case”
The first track to set off The Nerve, “Runnin’ Just In Case” thrums through with a heady pain. Lambert finds herself on the run once again, unable to stay because no one taught her how. Co-written with Gwen Sebastian, the lyricism sings on the page as much as it does through Lambert’s low, near growling, vocals. “Happiness ain’t prison/ But there’s freedom in a broken heart,” she sings on the very last line, setting the tone for what’s to come: an album largely about physical and metaphorical movement. Even so, it’s hard not to put it on repeat and linger there a while.