Miranda Lambert will be releasing a new album with fellow Texas songwriters Jack Ingram and Jon Randall called The Marfa Tapes on May 7th. No, don’t expect this to be a proper studio release from Lam Lam with radio singles and the like, or a replacement for Miranda’s other performing troika The Pistol Annies. The point of this project is to pull strings and scribble lyrics, and strip it all back to the heart of the songwriting process. Consider it Lambert’s contribution to pandemic-era records.
“They’re raw,” Lambert says about the album’s 15 songs. “You can hear the wind blowing, the cows mooing… We wanted you to feel like you were right there with us, sitting around the campfire, escaping the world, disappearing into the music.”
This isn’t the first time Miranda Lambert has shared song dispatches involving Marfa, Texas, or Jack and Jon. “Every time I need an escape, I go to Marfa TX,” she says. “Jack Ingram and Jon Randall come. We recharge. We get inspired by its beauty. We write songs. ‘Tin Man’ was the 1st we shared with you. ‘Tequila Does,’ the 2nd. In between, we’ve written 13 more. It’s about time to share them with y’all.”
And you can’t argue with the results so far. “Tin Man” was nominated for two Grammy Awards, two CMA Awards, and won the ACM Award for Song of the Year in 2018.
Known by some who study the supernatural for the unexplained lights that can be seen from the edge of town, Marfa is a tiny spot in the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas with around 2,000 full-time residents. It’s bred wonder and creativity in artists and musicians for many years. Recently the town has gone from a well-kept secret to one of those spots folks love to travel to on weekends and brag about on Instagram. It’s not quite Santa Fe or Taos, NM in coolness, but time slows down within the Marfa borders, with the intoxicating blend of cowboy, Spanish, and Native American cultures stimulating the creative mind and spirit, and helping to reset one’s perspective on the world.
The Marfa Tapes is also yet another example of Miranda Lambert using her stardom to champion worthy songwriters, similar to what she’s done with The Pistol Annies, and with some of the principle songwriting contributors to many of her studio records. In previous eras, guys like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Shel Silverstein, and others received great respect and support from the mainstream for their songs, despite not being mainstream names themselves, whereas today it’s often the usual cast of professional characters working off of Music Row who seem to suck up all the opportunity and attention for mainstream songwriting.
However, the songwriting credits for Miranda Lambert are a clear exception. It’s pretty incredible to see the artists and songs she’s chosen to champion throughout her career, and not just names from the past with established legacies, but sometimes the downright obscure. John Prine, Patty Griffin, David Rawlings and Gillian Welch, Fred Eaglesmith, Adam Hood, Natalie Hemby, Waylon Payne, Shake Russell, Allison Moorer, and Julie Miller are just some of the names Miranda has featured over the years. Here’s a list from 2018.
Beyond the support these artists have received from being the beneficiary of a Miranda Lambert songwriter credit, running through the list of Miranda Lambert contributors is simply a good way to discover some cool artists. This would certainly be the case with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall.
It will be interesting to see what this project has in store as Miranda shows us less of her country superstar side, and more of her songwriter side. The Marfa Tapes is now available for pre-order on vinyl, and the first song “In His Arms” can be heard below.
- In His Arms
- I Don’t Like It
- The Wind’s Just Gonna Blow
- Am I Right Or Amarillo
- Homegrown Tomatoes
- Breaking A Heart
- We’ll Always Have The Blues
- Tin Man
- Two-Step Down To Texas
- Tequila Does
- Amazing Grace (West Texas)