51.) Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2007)
Here's an interesting thing about music criticism that you probably already know - it's insufferable. This is especially true of indie music criticism and the standard bearer - the almighty pitchfork - is the worst offender and if you need proof look no further than the fact that they couldn't be bothered to review any of Miranda Lambert's three stellar records.
Listen, I get it. Miranda Lambert's a country singer - gross - who was the runner-up on the first season of USA's craptastic Nashville Star - grosser - so why touch it, right? Couldn't possibly be worth anybody's time. False. Miranda Lambert is one of the most exciting young artists working today and as far as I'm concerned, pitchfork can keep their Lykke Li's and their Santigold's...I'm picking Miranda every time.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is Miranda's second record and it is truly remarkable from start to finish. (NOTE: Miranda's latest record, Revolution, was released after I made this list, but holy shit is it fantastic) It is, literally, the sound of an artist growing up and becoming essential. I guess it would be easy to dismiss Miranda - she's beautiful and unfortunately we live in a world where that means you have to work extra hard to be taken seriously. Plus, critics have said she leans a bit too hard on her "outlaw" image singing about guns and drinking and smoking (again, topics that if a man tackled no one would bat an eye at). I'm here to say that's all bullshit. Miranda Lambert is a top shelf singer and songwriter with layers and truth is she sings what she knows. She just happens to be a beautiful country singer who shoots guns and likes to drink, but she's also vulnerable and isn't afraid to show that side as well - most notably on the fantastic ballad "More Like Her."
For all intents and purposes Miranda Lambert deserves to be as popular as Carrie Underwood, but she's not and probably never will be. She's not polished and packaged the way Underwood is. You get the feeling it just wouldn't work. She doesn't give a shit. She's a legit country girl and doesn't care who knows it - in fact, she revels in it. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend may just be THE definitive country record released this decade, an old school scrapbook type record that rewards repeated listens, yet still managed to have four hit (and by hit I mean by country standards) singles. In short, it's actual country music - the way country music was in it's glory days - raw, honest and a little dangerous. Pop music it's not. So, suck it Underwood!
Posted by Pat Driscoll