Miranda Lambert, "Famous In a Small Town"
Now two albums into her major-label country career, Miranda Lambert has positioned herself as a female outlaw. In the opener here, “Gunpowder & Lead,” she’s the woman who stands at the door, shotgun in hand, waiting to give her abusive partner a little surprise on his return. She reinforces that image with the title track, a raw and unhinged little number that’s so far outside Nashville’s usual positive-pop approach, it could scare Faith Hill and her pals half to death. Maybe it’s Lambert’s dark, rocking side that makes her ballads sound so disarmingly tender, sweet, and vulnerable. “More Like Her,” which she wrote, is a confession of jealousy, a subject that’s beyond tired — yet she gives it attitude and intensity. Our little outlaw then closes by letting down her guard for “Easy from Now On,” which is about as pretty a song as anyone’s likely to release this year, in rock, pop, or country.