Most of us travel to discover little corners of the earth we never knew existed, and usually wind up finding important pieces of ourselves in the process. How she captured all of that so poignantly and eloquently is what has made her a country music superstar for the past 15 years.
Of this new album, she says her goal was to take the listener on a journey through the tracklist:
“The making of this record has been one of the most fun and creative experiences of my career. Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby, and I went out to my farm in Tennessee in 2020 and started writing songs.
We figured while we have time let’s get out to the country and see what happens. The first one we wrote was ‘Tourist’ and that set us on a path to create something with a bit of a theme.
Since we couldn’t travel at the time, we decided to go on a journey through songs. I hope y’all are ready to travel with us wandering spirits and meet some cool characters with great stories.”
She included studio versions of several songs from her stripped back 2021 collaborative album The Marfa Tapes like “Geraldene,” “In His Arms,” and “Waxahachie,” which are three of my absolute favorites on this record, as well.
“Waxahachie” was the one song from Marfa that I listened to non-stop on a loop for a solid month, and the studio version is even better than I could’ve imagined. It’s going to be one of those tunes I go back to for years to come.
As I listened to this record for the first time, I kept thinking that it’s almost ironic at times to hear Miranda singing about her wandering spirit and traveling the world when she sounds so at home on this album. It might be the most cohesive project she’s ever put out, and I think a lot of that has to do with her maturing in her career and putting all of those life lessons together in a thoughtful and substantial way here.
For me, that sentiment is most obvious on “Tourist,” which was the first song she wrote for this new record. It’s easy to see how that shaped the direction of where the rest of the songs would go as she sings about all the places she’s been and the people she’s met.
This is my favorite lyric on that tune and sums it up perfectly: “‘Cause there’s always been a stranger in my soul, who loves a good goodbye and a good hello.”
She collaborated for a funky little tune featuring The B-52’s on a song she co-wrote with Luke Dick and Natalie Hemby called “Music City Queen,” which is another one I’ve already gone back to several times for the simple fact that it’s a sonic departure for Miranda that I absolutely love.
She even put a country spin on Mick Jagger’s “Wandering Spirit,” which is a perfect addition to this album.
Of course, you know she wasn’t going to leave us without at least one good old fashioned heartbreaker. “Carousel” finds two circus performers missing each other, and even though they know it wasn’t meant to be, they still can’t help but wondering “what if” more often than they should. It features the saddest lyrics on the album, too:
“Every show must end Every circus leaves town I didn’t know the magic left Till all the lights went down Now I’m back in Nacogdoches And I swear I’m doing well I only miss my Harlan when I hear a carousel…”
I mean… just rip my damn heart out, Miranda.
This album really has it all. On Palomino, Miranda has figured out how to put her restless soul to good use, and translate that feeling into people and places that we’ve all known or been to at one time or another.
It’s also the most mature album she’s ever released, and though the feeling as a whole is a little bit lighter than some of her pervious records like The Weight Of These Wings, that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in substance.
If there was ever any question about who the “Music City Queen” is, consider this her official declaration that, even though she might wander from time to time, she always finds her way back home… making kickass country music, right where she belongs.
“Music City Queen”
1. Actin’ Up (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Jon Randall)
2. Scenes (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
3. In His Arms (Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall)
4. Geraldene (Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall)
5. Tourist (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
6. Music City Queen feat. The B-52’s (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
7. Strange (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
8. Wandering Spirit (Mick Jagger, James Rippeto)
9. I’ll Be Lovin’ You (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Jon Randall)
10. That’s What Makes the Jukebox Play (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
11. Country Money (Miranda Lambert, Aaron Raitiere, Mikey Reaves)
12. If I Was a Cowboy (Miranda Lambert, Jesse Frasure)
13. Waxahachie (Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall)
14. Pursuit of Happiness (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)
15. Carousel (Miranda Lambert, Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby)