Monday, January 10, 2011

Miranda Lambert, "Heart Like Mine"

On the first listen, Miranda's new single may seem like a bit of a holding pattern.  Throughout her career, we've heard her sing about drinking, smoking cigarettes, and various other topics that reinforce her rough-around-the-edges persona.  "Heart Like Mine" doesn't seem to stray far outside of Miranda's comfort zone, but it does manage to further flesh out the character that is present in so many of Miranda's hits.

Miranda declares that she "ain't the kind you take home to Mama" and "ain't the kind to wear no ring."  She also smokes cigarettes, which the Christians say she should quit.  Her daddy cried when she saw her tattoo, but he still loves her anyway.  Still, she believes that Jesus understands her, even when other people don't

That's a nice sentiment, but the song falters slightly in the execution.  Miranda reminds us that "Jesus, he drank wine," and says she's sure they'd "get along just fine."  The chorus is constructed in a way that makes it appear as if that entire argument hinges on the fact that Jesus drank wine, which in turn, might lead us to wonder if she's making a case for Jesus having the same rebel streak that she does.  That doesn't quite fit, since it doesn't take a preacher to know that Jesus wasn't a chain-smoking outlaw.  The song's message is still discernible, but the method of delivery seems slightly misguided.

Despite that setback, the song has plenty of redeeming qualities.  An undercurrent of humility and honesty runs throughout the verses as this character straightforwardly lays bare her faults and imperfections.  The lyrics fit Miranda's tough gal image rather subtly without beating us over the heat with it.  It even hints at the character having a softer side underneath a rough exterior.  Sure, she could blow your head off with that rifle if she wanted to, but she's still a real person with the same desire for acceptance that we all have.  That makes the character feel more relatable to the audience.

Another appealing quality of this single is the fact that we can scarcely imagine it being recorded by any other artist.  This song is uniquely Miranda, and that fact is a positive reflection on Miranda's well-defined artistic identity.  It may not be Miranda's all-time best song, but "Heart Like Mine" goes to show that even Miranda's slightly substandard fare is still stronger than the best material some of her peers may have to offer.

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