So about “Roots & Wings” being the next single for Miranda Lambert, we now have an answer. Unfortunately it’s not going to happen now or at any other time. We were probably just lucky for Ram Trucks to allow her to release a full version of the song, let alone get it released as a single to radio. It’s a shame because it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever heard from Lambert. Of course it probably didn’t help that her last single “Little Red Wagon” stalled out at radio and didn’t perform that great sales wise, so they couldn’t go with such a country song as a followup. Instead Miranda Lambert’s new single is “Smokin’ and Drinkin’,” which also features Little Big Town. I’m not surprised to see this as a single because Little Big Town is hot right now on all of the charts and just reached the top ten in airplay on the Billboard chart last week. Lambert is trying to rebound and what better way than to release a single featuring the hottest group in country music right now.
First off this song is nowhere near as good as “Roots & Wings.” It’s not even close. “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” is a song about…well smoking and drinking. Okay it’s more than just this. The song has a reflective theme, with the people in the song thinking back to their younger years and how they rebelled against their upbringing by smoking and drinking. The song is part nostalgia, part “wiser with age” thinking. It’s very broad and doesn’t get too deep. What you hear is what you get with this song. Now upon the first couple of listens you think this song isn’t half bad, but the more I listen to it the more I’m bored by it. And I think I can put my finger on why: the instrumentation and the vocals.
The lyrics are at least decent, but the instrumentation gives me a lukewarm feeling. It sounds like 80s pop rock, something I found myself saying a lot when reviewing Little Big Town’s Pain Killer album. From the synth to the drum loops, I’m certainly not impressed. The vocals bug me even more though, especially at the beginning of the song. Lambert’s voice sounds animatronic-like and dare I say robotic. When Lambert and Little Big Town harmonize in the chorus, I expect to be blown away as both Lambert and lead singer of Little Big Town Kimberly Schlapman can be great singers. Instead I’m underwhelmed and left wanting a lot more. It’s really hard to distinguish the different voices in the harmonies too.
Lambert and her team had a chance to really impress everyone by releasing “Roots & Wings” as a single or really one of the traditional tracks off of her Platinum album. Instead we get 80s pop rock that simply makes me say, “meh.” I’m really not sure how this will perform on the charts. On one hand, as I mentioned in the opener Little Big Town is hot right now. On the other hand, two female vocalists on one song is a big red flag to the likes of Keith Hill and radio programmers. I could see this going either way on the radio charts. Regardless I’m back to being unimpressed by Lambert singles and continue to hope that the next one is better. “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” is definitely not amongst the worst in mainstream country music, but you can thank the lower than ever bar for that. Some will use this to try to defend this as a good song, but I won’t because my bar hasn’t lowered. I can neither recommend nor not recommend this song. It’s a song that simply exists.