Song Review: Miranda Lambert, “Tin Man”

So…is Miranda Lambert finally ready to get back in the saddle and release some quality material to country radio? After listening to “Tin Man” a few times, I’m afraid the answer is a resounding “No.”

Lambert’s last single “We Should Be Friends” was a flaming pile of garbage, and it was lucky to get the mid-20s airplay chart peak that it did before its momentum stalled. In its wake, Lambert decided to use her performance slot on the ACM awards to launch “Tin Man,” a fan favorite from her current album The Weight Of These Wings, as her third single from the album. While I have to admit that “Tin Man” is a far better song than “We Should Be Friends” was, it only rises to the level of forgettable background music, and is still a long way from actually being good.

I still stand by my statement that whoever produced this album ought to be fired immediately, but this song tries to limit the damage by giving the producer almost nothing to mess around with. The song is an acoustic ballad that includes nothing but Lambert and her guitar (and some quiet background tones from something I can’t identify). There are no drums, no bass, no electric instruments, nothing. Unfortunately, this decision translates to a song with no energy, no impact, and no compelling reason to listen to it. (Furthermore, the producer still manages to screw up the mix by completely botching the volume balance, which means that depending on your volume setting, either the guitar is too quiet or Lambert’s vocals are too loud.)

Mercifully, Lambert sounds a lot better on this track than on “We Should Be Friends,” and lets people hear what made her a star in the first place. However, Lambert’s calling card has always been her attitude and intensity, neither of which are present on “Tin Man.” Instead, the song is handled in a more-conversational style (which makes sense on the surface, given the song’s premise), and Lambert keeps her vocals much quieter and more restrained than usual. Unfortunately, this restraint leaves her unable to bring her usual vocal charisma and passion to bear, and as a result she fails to convince the listener that this conversation is worth listening to. Despite her best efforts, the song never rises beyond just existing, and instead of making a person feel her pain, it puts them to sleep.

The lyrics of “Tin Man” describe an imagined conversation between the narrator and the heart-seeking Tin Man from The Wizard Of Oz. While the writing is actually fairly solid here, it isn’t clever enough to rise above Lambert’s bland, boring delivery and make listeners sit up and pay attention. Despite being framed as a conversation, we never actually get to hear anything from the Tin Man’s perspective—the whole song is just Lambert lifelessly lamenting the pain of a broken heart. Furthermore, the ‘ooh-ooh’ interludes add nothing to the track, and make it run far longer than it needs to. In the end, whatever wit the song has is swallowed up by the underwhelming vocals and production, and by the end, you’re more than ready to rinse out your ears with a different song.

Overall, “Tin Man” comes across as background music you might hear standing in an elevator, and though it’s still a step up from Miranda Lambert’s last single, it’s a far cry from her best work. The song may be billed as a tearjerker, but any tears this song draws from you will be out of boredom, not sadness.

Rating: 5/10. Unless you’re in the market for a non-habit-forming sleep aid, you’re safe to pass on this one.

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