Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

So she’s only 23. Lindale’s MIRANDA LAMBERT may not be ready to impart any life lessons, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t already a damn good storyteller. Here’s how CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND (Sony BMG Nashville), the follow-up to her hit debut, opens: “I’m goin’ home, gonna load my shotgun/Wait by the door and light a cigarette/He wants a fight well now he’s got one/He ain’t seen me crazy yet.” The girl does make an impression. Despite the awful, compressed sound favored by Nashville producers these days (what’s the point of making a record that already sounds as if it’s coming over AM radio?), Lambert’s warm voice is displayed underneath, wrapping around her standout songs: “More Like Her” is a near-perfect tale of country heartbreak, “Famous in a Small Town” manages to be both wry and wise, and the title track is exactly the comedic stalker soap you think it is. Lambert’s writing skirts clichés and overt sentimentality and puts up a tough-girl persona. Full of heart, smarts, edgy humor, and—for mainstream Nashville—almost unimagin­able spunk, Lambert is giving contemporary country just the ass-kicking it needs.

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