On “Priscilla,” Miranda Lambert compares herself to Elvis Presley‘s long-suffering wife back in the day, “married to a man who’s married to attention.” As elsewhere on her fifth LP, it takes a cheeky view of her ascent to country music Queen Bee – here as partner to would-be king Blake Shelton. But mostly it shows how Lambert earned her throne: by singing top-shelf songs in the voice of a woman getting real. Listening to her records is like eavesdropping in a hair salon.
The title track is near-literally that, a brassy set of punch lines comparing hair color with record sales and declaring, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you blonder.” But Lambert also taps the old and alt elements beyond Music Row pop that make country music so rich. The undeniable single “Automatic” hard-sells nostalgia, but “Old Sh!t,” co-written by rising talent Brent Cobb and sung against a string band, does it more convincingly. “All That’s Left” gets full Texas swing treatment. The album’s most touching moment is its least-perfect song: “Bathroom Sink,” written solely by Lambert, is full of imperfect rhymes about regret and self-doubt. “I thank Him for his patience/And I take my medication,” she sings, sounding every bit as real as your next morning after.