Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Miranda Lambert, "The House That Built Me"

Miranda Lambert has earned a reputation as the bad girl of country music, with aggressive girl-power anthems like "Kerosene" and "Gunpowder and Lead." On Miranda's latest release, she puts down her rifles and cigarettes, showing a more tender side. "The House That Built Me" is about a young woman visiting the house in which she grew up, hoping to reconnect with the lost innocence of her youth.

This is an excellent song that really gives your heartstrings a tug. The songwriters wisely avoided the use of trite expressions, making good use of imagery instead ("I thought if I could touch this place or feel it/ The brokenness inside me might start healing"). Normally, I would fully expect the producers to ruin a great song like this, but producers Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke widely avoid the pitfall of overblown production. The instrumentation is kept simple, consisting mainly of acoustic and steel guitar. The main instrument is Miranda's voice.

The narrator describes several significant features of the house ("These handprints on the front steps are mine") and even describes her father building it. In the bridge near the end of the song, she describes how "I got lost and I forgot who I am."  The song ends on an unresolved note, causing the listener to wonder if this woman accomplished her purpose and found what she was looking for, or if she was looking for something too far gone.

"The House That Built Me" is an artistic masterpiece that contrasts sharply with the slick and polished country-pop that has dominated country airwaves lately. It stands a good chance at winning a CMA Award for Single of the Year or Song of the Year. Whether it tops the charts or not, this is a song that Miranda's fans will always remember.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)