Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Miranda Lambert: Wildcard [RCA, 2019]
The first nine seconds of "Too Pretty for Prison," wherein Miranda and her pal Maren decide not to snip his brake linings or antifreeze his Gatorade because orange isn't their color, deploy guitar-bass-drums suitable for climaxing a Motley Crue ballad--and for reminding Luke Combs et al. that Lambert has been outrocking the penis-packing "country" competition since her 2005 "Kerosene." In a Nashville where steel guitars are as vestigial as Harlan Howard covers, she's a rawer version of Tom Petty with more help on the songwriting (Luke Dick-Natalie Hemby snag five cowrites, Lindsey-McKenna-Rose four). Hence all the songs stand up in a row, and this still being Nashville--not only was it recorded there, the onetime Oklahoman now shares a nearby mansion with the NYC cop she just married--the metaphor bank has a ring that's more like a twang. She's got an Airstream to go with her new truck, "It All Comes Out in the Wash" recommends the spin cycle, and "White Trash" catalogues upscale versions of the real thing from a Cadillac on cinder blocks to dog hairs on the Restoration Hardware. Like she says: "Pretty bitchin'." A-