It’s rare for any artist to be quite so consistent as Miranda Lambert. Since making her major-label debut with Kerosene in 2005, she’s hardly put a foot wrong. Her sassy persona and love for sharp, modern country have made her one of country music’s biggest crossover successes, while her appreciation for traditional country runs deep enough to keep the purists happy. Each of her albums has topped at least one of the Billboard charts, with even the harshest critics struggling to find an unkind word to send her way. Here, we take a look back at her career as we rank all the Miranda Lambert albums from worst to best.
Described by Entertainment Weekly as “a portrait of an artist in full possession of her powers, and the best mainstream-country album so far this year,” Revolution, Lambert’s third studio album, found Lambert expanding further on the fascinating persona she’d developed on her previous releases with a set of rock-orientated country songs that capitalized on her increasing crossover appeal. If it has a fault, it’s that it’s a little too long, but the versatility and strength of Lambert’s performance leave little room for criticism.
Lambert’s major-label debut, Kerosene, was released on March 15, 2005. Despite some initial resistance from the music press, who were expecting something fabricated and slick in the wake of her appearance on the American Idol knockoff, Nashville Star, it soon won the haters over with its sharp songwriting and appealing sheen. Described by All Music as “a rarity in modern mainstream country: a piece of product that’s friendly, tuneful, sharper, and more genuine than it initially seems,” the album became a hit, peaking at number one on the Top Country Albums chart and number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Lambert’s seventh studio album, Wildcard, was released on November 1, 2019. Boosted by the success of the singles It All Comes Out In The Wash, Bluebird, and Settling Down, the album was another commercial hit for Lambert, peaking at number 4 on the Billboard 200 and becoming her seventh album to reach number one on the Top Country Albums chart. Described by Rolling Stone as a “country-rock masterpiece” and the “sound of a freewheeling star at the top of her game, reimagining rock history in her own platinum image,” it picked up almost as many positive reviews as it did unit sales, culminating in a Grammy Award for Best Country Album and a nomination for the Country Music Association Award for Album of the Year.
5. The Marfa Tapes
The Marfa Tapes was made in collaboration with country artists Jack Ingram and Jon Randall and released on May 7, 2021. Stylistically, it’s a world away from Lambert’s usual projects: recorded with just two microphones, two acoustic guitars, and with nothing but the sound of the campfire for accompaniment, it has a ragged, raw edge that’s only exaggerated by the snapshots of conversation heard between the tracks. But if anything, the simple production only helps, adding to the warm, joyful intimacy of the recordings.
4. Four The Record
Four The Record, Lambert’s fourth studio album, was released in November 2011 to widespread acclaim. Despite being heavily reliant on songs from other writers, the album is a triumph, with Lambert’s gift for interpretation shining through. A hugely confident, remarkably versatile album with considerable depth, it became the biggest commercial success of her career till then, reaching number three on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. It’s since sold over one million copies in the US alone and been awarded platinum certification by the RIAA.
Platinum, Lambert’s sixth studio album, became her biggest commercial success till that point on its release in June 2014. In addition to debuting at number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart (making her the first artist to debut at number one with five consecutive records), it also topped the Billboard 200, becoming her first number one on the chart. It was equally well-received critically, earning Grammy, CMA and ACM awards for Best Country Album and winning praise for its canny construction and appealing blend of modern and traditional country. There are a couple of missteps (Somethin’ Bad and Automatic are two of the weakest cuts) but given its sprawling nature and sizeable ambitions, that’s only to be expected. Overall, it’s a hugely enjoyable album that highlights Lambert’s expertise for sharply crafted, expertly delivered country.
2. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
In May 2007, Lambert dropped her second studio album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Praised by critics for its hell-raising material, sly humor, and complex material, it was a huge hit, debuting at number 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums, number 6 on the Billboard 200, spawning her first top ten hit single on the country chart (Gunpowder & Lead), and winning the Academy of Country Music’s “Album of the Year” award. The original material is excellent, but equally outstanding is Lambert’s pitch-perfect covers, which include a delightful rendition of the Susanna Clark penned, Easy From Now On, that comes close to eclipsing Emmylou Harris’ hugely popular version. As a showcase for her talents as a singer, songwriter, and interpreter, it’s almost impossible to fault.
1. The Weight of These Wings
In at number one is Lambert’s sprawling sixth studio album, The Weight of These Wings. Released on November 18, 2016, it received widespread critical acclaim, with critics praising its ambition and atmospheric production. Considering its length (the album consists of two discs and 24 songs), you’d expect to find a few missteps, but its blend of pop, traditional country, and rock is faultless, veering from the sunny delights of Pink Sunglasses to the hugely touching Things That Break. Commercially, it was a slam dunk, hitting number 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, number three on the Billboard 200, and bringing home the trophy for Album of the Year at the 2017 ACM Awards.