Song Review – Miranda Lambert’s “If I Was a Cowboy”

Any time Miranda Lambert releases the lead single to what is (presumably) an upcoming album, it’s worth stopping down and discussing, because it’s commonly a leading indicator as to what direction this modern queen of country music will point the brim of her Stetson.

At times that direction has been more along the lines of modern traditional country bolstered by strong songwriting, like on her early albums and The Weight of These Wings. Other times it’s been in a more pragmatic and pop direction similar to what’s found on her albums Platinum and Wildcard.

We already received a new Miranda Lambert album in 2021, but it was a bit more of a side joint in her acoustic/work tape offering The Marfa Tapes with songwriters Jon Randall and Jack Ingram. Those tracks were something more for Miranda’s core audience and songwriting junkies who like to burrow beneath the veneer of popular music, and for a good handful of listeners, it’s what they prefer compared to some polished studio effort.

But “If I Was a Cowboy” is the first taste from an album that will compete for big awards and be the talk of country because of Miranda’s track record. A Western-themed song presenting a female protagonist that refuses to be tamed or tied down, “If I Was a Cowboy” is a country enough-sounding track with faraway-set and subtle yodels that will stoke the imagination of listeners, and impart them with a moment of enjoyable escapism. Who wouldn’t want to saddle up and gallop away from everyday drudgery like an old school cowboy?

Co-written with Jesse Frasure, we don’t have any confirmation yet who Miranda Lambert is working with as a producer. Any time you hear “ooh ooh’s” in a song, it’s a good indication Jay Joyce is at the helm, and he produced Miranda’s last record. But Jesse Frasure is a producer too, so we’ll just have to see. (UPDATE: According to Luke Dick on Twitter,he co-produced the track with Jon Randall.)

I’m not sure if the lyrical hook, “If I was a cowboy, I’d be the queen” sinks its barb as deep as it wishes to, but it’s catchy enough where you can see the song working on radio, which for a Miranda Lambert lead single, is what you’re looking for.

“If I Was a Cowboy” won’t set the world on fire, but it should be well-received, and wet the public’s whistle for a new album on the way, which hopefully will include more of these Western-themed tracks with wafts of steel guitar, which is what you hope for from Miranda Lambert as a country fan.

1 1/2 Guns Up (7/10)

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