It's been two years since Miranda Lambert released her fifth studio album Platinum. But for fans, it may as well have been 50 -- the thirst for new music and the inevitable post-Shelbert (Blairanda?) break-up album is real. Lambert just shared the tracklist for her follow-up, The Weight of These Wings (Nov. 18), so naturally Billboard did a deep dive into the tracklist looking for any clues about the sound of this highly-anticipated double album.
1) There's a common thread.
Along with, of course, Miranda herself -- who's listed as a writer on all but four of the 24 tracks -- one name keeps coming up over and over: Natalie Hemby, who's been writing with Lambert since 2009's Revolution, appears on 10 of the tracks -- far more than anyone else on the record. The prolific composer (and Nashville native) previously penned Lambert's "Automatic," "White Liar," and Little Big Town's "Pontoon," among many others. Watch her perform "Automatic" below.
2) Lambert's joined by some old hands…
Nashville favorite Shane McAnally, Lambert's Pistol Annies bandmate Ashley Monroe and longtime guitarist Scotty Wray are some of the familiar names on Wings. Below, Miranda is joined by the trio (along with Nicolle Galyon, another longtime collaborator, and rising country star Maren Morris) for an intimate performance of Barbara Mandrell's "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool."
3) ...and a few new faces (including beau Anderson East).
Not only does Taylor Swift hitmaker Liz Rose (you may have heard of a song called "Teardrops On My Guitar") -- who hasn't written with Lambert -- appear twice, Voice alum Gwen Sebastian is on three of the album's co-writes. Her biggest song? A duet with none other than Blake Shelton called "My Eyes."
Some Dixie Chicks with @mirandalambert and @GwenSebastian ❤️ #cowboytakemeaway #DixieChicks pic.twitter.com/yHHb7Pe0xs
- Lucie Silvas (@LucieSilvas) June 24, 2016
Another less-familiar contributor is Waylon Payne, who appears on two of the tracks (yes, he's named for godfather Waylon Jennings).
Also unexpected but considerably better known is Foy Vance, the Irish singer-songwriter who's signed to Ed Sheeran's Gingerbread Man Records -- watch Lambert perform Vance's "Shed A Little Light" below.
Of course, the juiciest tidbit (predicted by Billboard and those closely following Miranda's Instagram) is the pair of co-writes with beau Anderson East. Beyond his songwriting contribution, East has worked with Aaron Raitiere, who co-wrote three songs on Wings, and Dave Cobb, who featured Lambert on his Southern Family compilation earlier this year. Nashville's really not all that big…
5) There are two covers.
The first is "You Wouldn't Know Me," a 1978 tune by bluegrass songwriter Shake Russell (Ricky Skaggs, Waylon Jennings) -- certainly not an unprecedented look for Lambert, but also not exactly radio friendly.
The second, "Covered Wagon," is a rollicking 70's single from singer/songwriter Danny O'Keefe that Lambert has been performing live for much of 2016 -- see the original and her version below.
6) "Highway Vagabond" is the name of her 2017 tour, "Keeper of the Flame" was the name of her 2016 tour.
Both songs seem like they might be somewhat central, given that they's earned tour titling status -- hear a snippet of "Highway Vagabond" as performed by two of its writers, Luke Dick and Shane McAnally, below.
7) The album's divided in two
"Double album. One Story," Lambert wrote on Instagram -- the two halves are called "The Nerve" and "The Heart," respectively. It already sounds like a break-up album, and we've just heard one song...only (only?!) one month, and we'll be hearing the rest.
Double album. One story. #TheWeightOfTheseWings pic.twitter.com/wUVXuCwVV4
- Miranda Lambert (@mirandalambert) October 17, 2016