My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Miranda Lambert – ‘The House That Built Me’

One of the most common complaints about country radio in the 21st century is the glaring absence of substantive songs that actually convey a message. Miranda Lambert seeks to remedy this with her latest single, “The House That Built Me.”

The third release from her Revolution album opens with an acoustic guitar arrangement. The first lines reveal that the protagonist has turned up on the doorstep of her childhood home, to ask the current owner if she can come inside for a moment, to gain some sustenance and strength from the place where she felt safe as a child. She recounts a flood of childhood memories — her handprints in the concrete of the front steps, the bedroom where she did her homework and learned to play the guitar, and the backyard grave of her favorite dog.

The production is pleasingly stripped down throughout the song; it builds up a bit approaching the bridge, but Lambert wisely resists the urge to turn the song into a bombastic power ballad as she sings:

You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can
I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am

Most people can relate to the deeply ingrained memories that are attached to one’s childhood home, and Lambert’s nostalgic musings will undoubtedly lead the listener on a similar trip down memory lane.   Allen Shamblin, who co-wrote the song with Tom Douglas, has a track record of waxing nostalgic, having written Randy Travis’ 1990 hit “He Walked On Water.”  Whether Miranda Lambert can take his newest offering to the top of the charts remains to be seen.  It seems to be a long shot, given its slow tempo and Lambert’s inconsistent performance at radio.  However, coming on the heels of”White Liar,”  her biggest hit to date,  now may be the perfect time to spin this worthwhile record into the public consciousness.   Regardless of its uncertain fate at radio, it is a step in the right direction for both Lambert as an artist —  and for country music in general, which would benefit greatly from more songs like this.

Written by Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin

Grade: A

22 responses to “Single Review: Miranda Lambert – ‘The House That Built Me’

  1. Blake February 9, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Thank you for a very nice review. This is a really special song, to say the least.

  2. Bob February 9, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Great song and review – and I’m not a Miranda Lambert fan. With more songs like this maybe I could be. Didn’t care at all for “Dead Flowers” or “White Liar” but I did like “Famous in a Small Town”.

  3. Chris February 10, 2010 at 2:45 am

    This is like my leaving-home song- I first heard it studying for a mid-term and it hit me how much I missed home. This song has a special place for me, and I hope that resonance will give it some success! Good review!

  4. J.R. Journey February 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    These are the kinds of songs that renew my wavering faith in country music. I am liking Miranda Lambert more and more and more these days.

  5. Jordan Stacey February 12, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I’m still shocked that her label is willing to take a risk in releasing this. Most labels would’ve released a more radio-friendly but weaker song like “Love Song”. While that song may have been able to get her another sure fire top 10, it wouldn’t have made any artistic impact, which seems to be a bigger concern for Miranda, whose career is built more on critical praise, than radio hits. Single of the year so far.

    • Leeann Ward February 12, 2010 at 10:52 am

      Yes, I would have predicted “Love Song” too. I’m glad they didn’t do it though, because it’s surely one of the lamest songs on the album.

      • Michael February 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm

        I’m also surprised. Usually if there’s one or two songs on an album that I don’t like, those will be the ones that the label promotes to radio. (Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried” and “Whatever It Is”, a couple from Sugarland’s last album)

  6. Lanibug February 15, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Having seen her perform this song live – you can tell that this song means something to her. And it really connects with her audience. It connected with me as well. I am glad that her record label is taking the chance to release a slower song after White Liar. Some of my favorite songs by her are her slower songs.

  7. Nicolas February 22, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I think this will definitely be a hit, its not a big deal to release a slow tempo like this during the winter… there’s slow songs going up the charts right now from Reba and Alan Jackson

    Anyways, I love this song and the review was great… I’m thrilled that its being released as a single =)

    “Heart Like Mine” for single #4! ❤ hehe

  8. E March 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    What does she mean at the line that says, “Ma’am, I know you don’t know me from Adam…” Is Adam the town the house is in….or is Adam even really what she says?

    • Occasional Hope March 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm

      It’s a common phrase – not knowing someone from Adam means not knowing who they are. In this song she’s saying the new house owner will have no idea who she is or what her connection is to the house.

      • E March 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm

        I had no idea! Thanks!

      • Occasional Hope March 11, 2010 at 5:03 pm

        Here’s another country song using the phrase:

      • Steve from Boston June 8, 2010 at 7:33 am

        Exactly..”Adam” = “Everyman” or anyman, anyone.

        Wonderful song, and nice, insightful review, Razor.. I was really surprised to learn that Miranda didn’t actually write this one, but she deserves a ton of credit for choosing it, and for her utterly convincing delivery.

        It’s great to see Miranda using her hard earned artistic capitol so wisely, and now that she finally has folks attention, may she continue to give us songs actually worth listening to, quality songs that are her stock and trade. Much continued success to her!

    • Ben Foster June 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm

      My guess is that “Adam” is a Biblical reference to the first man created. The way I understand it, not knowing someone “from Adam” means that you don’t have a long history or connection with that person.

  9. Rick @ The Conservative Journal March 22, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Miranda is an amazing talent in country music. I was so happy to hear this was chosen as a single as it is one of my favorite songs from Revolution. Hopefully “White Liar”‘s success will make radio less hesitant to play her songs.

    Great review!

    Rick
    The Conservative Journal

  10. Ben Foster June 5, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I think this song will find its place among the timeless classics of country music. It is easily the most meaningful song heard on country radio in recent years, and it fully deserves the massive success it has enjoyed.

    “The House That Built Me” was the very first song I reviewed on my own country music blog, which I launched back in April. Check it out!
    http://1to10countryreview.blogspot.com/2010/04/miranda-lambert-house-that-built-me.html

  11. Phyllis May 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Over the past two years a lot of tragedy has come over my family. Last year we buried my father and my youngest brother (40 years old and the youngest of 7 siblings). So my 79 year old mother had to sell the house and move out of the house that built our family for 50 years.

    This song came out exactly when all this was going on, so, to say this song means something to me would be an understatement. From the first time, and each time since, I can’t help but cry. It’s so lovely.

    Please keep writing those melodies.

  12. hishamharum May 25, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I just caught the grammies and saw Miranda Lambert singing The House That Built Me. She was so relaxed singing it, but I don’t know why the hell tears just started streaming right to the very end of the song… I wonder if this song or the singing, or both together, affect others the way it did me? And I didn’t even know who Miranda Lambert was until Blake Shelton, her fiance mentioned, mentioned her name the first time over The Voice, when one contestent was singing her song. Well, I’m a fan now. And I wish both Lambert and Shelton all the best.

  13. jaredrexclark May 28, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Great song, but and I would say this is Miranda’s best song! I was a little shocked you didn’t give the song an A+. I do agree that Country Music could use more songs that have some depth to them.

  14. Pingback: The House That Built Me | Newslines - The Story of Everything

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