Miranda Lambert, “Platinum” (RCA Nashville)
Country star Miranda Lambert describes her fifth album “Platinum” as transitional: She wanted to show the maturity of an award-winning artist who has turned 30 and settled into marriage.
But don’t worry, she’s still the wildest risk-taking Nashville singer roaring through the back roads. She frontloads the new 16-song collection with a saucily slurred lyric about the power of bleach jobs (“What doesn’t kill you only makes you blonder” she cracks in “Platinum”) and another (“Little Red Wagon”) that rips a would-be Romeo with a string of putdowns delivered with punkish glee.
Yes, Lambert continues to grow. But at her core, she continues to celebrate the colorful drama of working-class lives, punching them up with the freshest country rock arrangements this side of Eric Church. The way she reflects modern women, complete with risqué word play and edgy humor, is what makes Lambert a fully three-dimensional country star.
“Platinum” only falters when Lambert leans on country clichés, as when she waxes nostalgic about a pre-digital world in her recent hit “Automatic” and on a one-dimensional tale (“Something Bad”) about wicked women that wastes a duet pairing with fellow superstar Carrie Underwood.
But, as usual, Lambert is as entertaining on album tracks as she is on radio hits. From the western-swing throwback (“All That’s Left”), recorded with dance-floor revivalists The Time Jumpers, to a cheeky send-up of celebrity marriages (“Priscilla”), Lambert keeps proving that life, in all its messy glory, is much richer than most of her Nashville peers ever suggest.