My Kind of Country

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

Single Review – Miranda Lambert – ‘Baggage Claim”

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous listening to Miranda Lambert’s new single. I didn’t want to be disappointed or feel like she was squandering her talents. Revolution remains my current favorite mainstream country album and it was released almost two years ago. The quality of the material was top-notch and the album took Lambert to the heights I knew she was destined for after her third place finish on Nashville Star eight years ago.

But after hearing “Baggage Claim” I have to say I’m quite pleased. The track retains all the elements of a classic Lambert song – attitude, loudness, and the use of backing vocalists (which in this case happen to be Josh Kelley) on the chorus. The production has this gypsy like quality to it with the guitar work throughout that I’m really digging. It’s new and different and sounds like nothing else going for ads on country radio, which in a sea of “I’m Country” anthems is more than a good thing.

Lyrically, it’s a novel idea because it presents a tired theme in a fresh light. The metaphor of luggage in a baggage claim to the baggage of a failed relationship seems obvious at first, but if it were, it would be a cliché by now. But the cleverness of the metaphor can’t disguise the lightness of the lyrics that keep the song a hair below Lambert’s best work. But it’s very catchy and cannot help but grab your attention.

Unfortunately though, her trademark loudness gets in the way here. While it doesn’t hinder appreciation of the lyrics, the overall track is congested. A thinner arrangement (without the hard-hitting drums on the bridge, for example) would’ve struck a better tone and given Lambert room to inject even more anger into her vocal performance.

Despite the shortcomings, “Baggage Claim” displays how much Lambert has grown over the last two years by bringing new elements to her sound. Sonically, this sounds something Sheryl Crow would record and when I first heard it and the track brought to mind “Every Day Is A Winding Road.”

By varying the production just slightly, Lambert ensures the track doesn’t sound like a second-rate knockoff from Revolution but an introduction to a new project. It’s a solid addition to her discography and succeeds in wetting our appetites for the November 1 release of Four The Record.

Grade: B

9 responses to “Single Review – Miranda Lambert – ‘Baggage Claim”

  1. Sara August 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    LOVE Baggage Claim! With each listen I love it more and more. Miranda is so talented and she once again writes a quality song that sounds like nothing on country radio. Hope it gets to #1! She deserves it.

  2. Cathie August 13, 2011 at 1:43 am

    I don’t care for this song.

  3. J.R. Journey August 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    You were a lot kinder to this single than I would have been. Miranda Lambert is the one shining beacon in mainstream country music these days, and I am disappointed with the folk-ish turn her music seems to have taken with the Pistol Annies single and this one. Here’s hoping this is the “Dead Flowers” of the new album.

    • Razor X August 14, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      I don’t think this sounds folkish at all. It reminds me of something Linda Ronstadt might have done back in the 70s.

    • Occasional Hope August 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm

      I don’t like the sound/production/arrangement of this one very much.

    • J.R. Journey August 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      I’m not big on the production here. Maybe “folk-ish” was the wrong term, but I can’t think of a better one. And I agree with Razor that it is sorta reminiscent of 70s Ronstadt. But I never liked Ronstadt’s music a whole lot when she got into this whole rhythm-driven mindset either.

      • Jonathan Pappalardo August 15, 2011 at 9:14 am

        Someone pointed out in a review or a comment on this song, Miranda Lambert (and/or her label) has a track record of releasing odd first singles from her albums or at least spotlighting less-than-stellar tunes as introductions to her albums. I remember hating “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” when she performed it on the CMA awards and thought it was uncharacteristic of the music she’d make. I’m actually one of the few who like “Dead Flowers,” but I can see why people hate it, but I like the weirdness of it.

        I do agree with your assessments of the production on “Baggage Claim.” I like that she seems, at least to me, to be taking chances and not sticking to the same formula (instrumentation speaking) as she has in the past, but the whole package (production and vocal) seems very processed to me. I had a hard time putting that into words when writing the review. I would’ve liked it better, had it been quieter.

        And J.R., I can see how you’d call this “folk-ish.” It does have that type of vibe to it. I hadn’t made the Ronstadt connection myself, but you’re right. This does sound like something she would’ve recorded in the 70s, or as you point out, reminiscent of her 70s recordings.

        And I’m also digging “Hell on Heels” but I really like Ashley Monore (as well as Lambert) so I’m a bit bias on that end. But the production on both songs does seem a little odd for mainstream radio.

        I’m not giving up hope on Lambert’s new album just yet. She’s consistently wowed us with her three previous albums and I don’t expect that to change. I’d be shocked if she went the Sugarland route and did a 360 this time around. She’s finally in the good graces of country radio and to mess with that now would be more than disappointing.

  4. Leeann August 15, 2011 at 9:07 am

    I think the idea is a stretch, but I do like the production. It is a bit more Americana than straight country, but then, I like that kind of stuff almost as much as country.

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