Well, it has been a long time, and it is good to be back. I think it appropriate that my first review in several months should be of possibly my most personally anticipated single of 2016. It is no secret to anyone who reads this how I feel about Miranda Lambert, and besides this, her next album has been especially anticipated by many following her divorce from Blake Shelton and his subsequent, obnoxiously public relationship with Gwen Stefani. None of this matters at all and should mostly be left to gossip sites, but it must be pointed out here because it will most likely have a direct effect on Lambert’s musical direction. With that in mind, we have the lead single from what will be Miranda’s sixth album, “Vice.”
“Vice” opens with a needle on vinyl and then just Miranda singing. The first thing I notice is how vulnerable she sounds. She sings about a woman who goes through different vices, including drinking and waking up in places she doesn’t know how she came to. She knows she keeps making mistakes, but she can’t seem to help it. There is an honesty in this song that country music lost years ago, and the fact it’s coming on a lead single is unbelievable. “Standing at the sink looking in the mirror, I don’t know where I am or how I got here. The only thing that I know how to find is another vice.” I can’t think of the last time I heard such raw honesty in a lead single. She wasn’t looking for radio play when she co-wrote this. As for the production, it’s not something we’ve yet heard from Miranda Lambert; it’s neither the strong country of Revolution nor the pop rock sound dominating Platinum. It’s something in between, like the raw country rock sound of Eric Church’s Mr. Misunderstood or parts of Lindi Ortega’s Faded Gloryville. It works on this song, and it is definitely a better direction than Platinum, although I still prefer the sound of Revolution. Having said that, I am interested to hear the upcoming album. Unlike the general overproduction on Platinum, “Vice” maintains something raw and real. This is a good different direction for Miranda Lambert. If “Vice” is any indication, the album could be a truly honest one and a standout in the mainstream this year.