ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Miranda Lambert is one of country music's biggest stars. She scored a bunch of number-one albums and singles over the past 10 years.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAMA'S BROKEN HEART")
MIRANDA LAMBERT: (Singing) Go and fix your makeup. Girl, it's just a breakup. Run and hide your crazy and start acting like a lady. 'Cause I raised you better, got to keep it together even when you fall apart. But this ain't my mama's broken heart.
SIEGEL: Lambert is part of a generation of women songwriters who break with country music traditions. She recently divorced fellow country star Blake Shelton. It's likely that her 24-song album titled "The Weight Of These Wings," released today, will be seen as a breakup album. But critic Will Hermes says it's much more than that.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUNNIN' JUST IN CASE")
LAMBERT: (Singing) There's trouble where I'm going, but I'm going to go there anyway. I hate Sunday mornings 'cause they always seem to start this way.
WILL HERMES, BYLINE: Miranda Lambert loves playing the role of the crazy ex-girlfriend in her songs. She even used that phrase as an album title. But on her new album, the characters aren't raging in anger or wallowing in sorrow. Instead, they're taking action. And since this is country music, that involves hitting the road and drinking.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UGLY LIGHTS")
LAMBERT: (Singing) But I still go and stay too late and be the girl bartenders hate, the one that doesn't need another one. When the Romeos and Juliets have bummed all of my cigarettes, the last kiss in the parking lot is done. I'll be sitting here alone when the ugly lights come on.
HERMES: But I can't recall a mainstream country album with the range of "The Weight Of These Wings." There are rock, folk and pop music tropes. There's plenty of humor, some of it dark, and a broad spectrum of love songs. This one may be my favorite, about rebound relationships and how fast they move.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PUSHIN' TIME")
LAMBERT: (Singing) Sometimes love acts out of spite and good things happen overnight. Can't take it slow 'cause you and I are pushing time.
HERMES: I also love the song "Getaway Driver," which Lambert delivers like a more romantic re-imagining of the movie "Thelma & Louise."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GETAWAY DRIVER")
LAMBERT: (Singing) She treats my heart like a stolen car, all the while she had the keys. Standing in the line of fire, I'll be right beside her. I'm her getaway driver, her getaway driver.
HERMES: With 24 songs, this is an old-fashioned double album. And most of the songs are keepers. A few feel like straight-up classics. A lot of them sound like they might be about Lambert's marriage. They involve surviving brutal disappointments, moving on and making things better. And that sentiment feels very universal.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEPER OF THE FLAME")
LAMBERT: (Singing) I've been burned down to ashes, waiting for a wind to carry me and start a fire again.
SIEGEL: Miranda Lambert's "The Weight Of These Wings" is out today. Our critic is Will Hermes.
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