Revolution: Live By Candlelight
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Revolution: Live By Candlelight

“Revolution: Live by Candlelight” captures an intimate Miranda Lambert performance, with the singer and her acoustic band playing stripped-down renditions of songs such as “White Liar” and “The House That Built Me.”

In Miranda We Trust

At the center of every Miranda Lambert song is a distinctive young woman — often wild, sometimes vulnerable, occasionally crazy. This girl is always true to herself, no matter how sloppy her tale or bumpy the ride. Much like Lambert herself, she wears her heart on her sleeve and is very hard not to love back.

I experienced Lambert’s disarming appeal up close in 2011 when she played a large Chicago club, about a year after “Revolution: Live by Candlelight” was made. The Texas country star, then 27, was 10 years deep into her career. Backed by a scruffy country-rock band, she was filled with unabashed sass and wicked humor. I appreciated that she hadn’t smothered herself in mainstream gloss, and instead came on like a boisterous biker chick, tossing back a few shots, strumming a pink acoustic guitar and whipping her blonde hair with abandon.

Lambert brought out Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, her pals and bandmates in the trio side project Pistol Annies. I was moved by the easy friendship of the three women as they launched into a number of songs, including a raucous version of the Confederate Railroad hit “Trashy Women.”

The audience of twenty-something revelers ate it up. The guys whistled, hollered and hooted, clearly enjoying the music and the performance. But I was gobsmacked by all the young women packing the place. They pushed up to the stage, shouted their love to Lambert and laughed at the singer’s spicy jokes. They boisterously sang along, shouting the chorus of “White Liar,” a kiss-off anthem to a cheating boyfriend.

She was a tough-talking confidant, a relatable hell-raiser, the kind of best friend who holds your hair back when you get sick in the ladies’ room from one too many jello shots.

It was clear that for these rapturous women, Lambert was far more than just a hit-maker on the radio. The singer-songwriter had hit a collective nerve. She was a tough-talking confidant, a relatable hell-raiser, the kind of best friend who holds your hair back when you get sick in the ladies’ room from one too many jello shots.

It was a girl thing and I understood the feeling. I had witnessed a similar reaction when I once saw Loretta Lynn sing “The Pill.” Many of the middle-aged women in the audience stood for the entirety, clapping along and singing every word of the country legend’s salute to the liberating contraceptive. I laughed and grew teary at the same time, moved by Loretta’s ability to turn a novelty song into an uplifting anthem that struck at the heart of a woman’s life.

Her ability to address the good, the bad and the messy of female desire is what makes her such a gem in modern country.

A couple generations later, the same can be said for Lambert and the impact she has on her devoted female followers. Her ability to address the good, the bad and the messy of female desire is what makes her such a gem in modern country. A revenge tale like “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” follows in the hallowed footsteps of such Lynn classics as “Fist City” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” wherein a betrayed wife threatens the other woman with an ass-kicking. Though the subject matter sounds dark, the material is leavened with enough humor to make for a fun ride. Lambert clearly belongs to that spunky lineage.

Country icon Loretta Lynn, whose classic songs influenced Miranda Lambert.

Like Lynn, she also has a softer side, which is on full display on the “Revolution: Live by Candlelight.” Filmed in a warm living-room setting in 2010, the six-song unplugged mini-set captures Lambert in intimate mode with an acoustic band. I found myself mourning my own childhood home during her sensitive rendition of “The House That Built Me,” and longing for a relationship with the forgiving, wine-drinking Jesus of “Heart Like Mine.” Those performances are a powerful reminder that she doesn’t need bells and whistles to put a song across. Pure twang, a strummed guitar and low-key accompaniment will do just fine.

She’s earned a reputation offstage for supporting her sisters in music, championing female artists from Kacey Musgraves to Maren Morris. Onstage, Lambert has become a true blue cohort to women by writing foursquare songs about them. She doesn’t peddle perfectionism — just an honesty about the female experience, flaws and all, told with heart and humor.

Chrissie Dickinson is an award-winning music and arts journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Performing Songwriter, Country Music Magazine and Off Our Backs. Her essays have appeared in a number of books, including “Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Reader” (DaCapo Press). Previously, she was the pop music critic at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and was on staff at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, where she was editor of “The Journal of Country Music.”

Chrissie Dickinson is an award-winning music and arts journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Performing Songwriter, Country Music Magazine and Off Our Backs. Her essays have appeared in a number of books, including “Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Reader” (DaCapo Press). Previously, she was the pop music critic at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and was on staff at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, where she was editor of “The Journal of Country Music.”

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