I’ve been a fan of Miranda Lambert since the first time I heard “Gunpowder and Lead”, when I was about 15/16 years old. I was immediately drawn to the Texas firebrand and her music. She was sassy, strong, and took crap from no one. Her music was empowering and incredibly relatable to girls and women everywhere. Through a little over a decade, we have watched Miranda come into her own and make a name for herself in country music. Now some may argue that Miranda is just some singer who sings songs about hating men and getting revenge, and they would be dead wrong. First of all, Miranda isn’t “just some singer”, and second, there is so much more to her music than just revenge songs. Miranda has proven herself to be a versatile artist, with songs ranging from the empowering, hell hath no fury “Gunpowder and Lead” and “Kerosene”, to the vulnerable “More Like Her” and “Bathroom Sink”, to the sweeter “Virginia Bluebell” and “Safe”, to the sad ballads “Over You” and “Dear Diamond”. Yes, Miranda is much more than just a “singer of revenge songs”, and she proves that yet again, with her newest song, “Sweet By and By”.
It’s always exciting when we get to hear new music from Lambert, whose last record, Platinum, was released in 2014. “Sweet By and By” is Miranda’s contribution to Southern Family, a concept album that Dave Cobb has put together, featuring various artists from all over the country music genre, due out in early March. “Sweet By and By” is a sweet, lilting ballad that acts as a tribute to family and a way of life. Its theme of honoring family works perfectly with the overall theme of Southern Family.
The song opens with Miranda softly singing, “Pick a switch, read the Bible/ hunt and fish for survival/ plant a seed, watch it grow/ learn to trust which way the wind blows/ let your mama know you love her/ you will never have another”, using images and customs that go hand in hand with the southern culture, coupled with good advice to round out the first stanza, and then moves into the first chorus, “Daddy I have not forgotten/ lessons learned under the light of the southern starry sky/ family’s the light that guides us/ Blessed be the ties that bind us/ sweet by and by/ sweet by and by”. The song continues to switch off between the changing chorus and words of truth and reflection.
The next stanza gives more age old advice, “Tell the truth, earn your dollar/ let not your heart asunder/ save yourself, believe in faith/ good things come to those who wait/ let your daddy know you love him/ you will never have another”, and then moves into the chorus, but changing up the first line, this time starting off with “Mama I have not forgotten” instead of “Daddy I have not forgotten”. Miranda brings “Sweet By and By” to a close with a repeat of the chorus two times, using both versions, the “mama” and the “daddy” variations.
“Sweet By and By” has a very organic feel to it, with a 70s country/roots sound. After releasing an album and four singles that had heavy production on them, Miranda goes back to her roots with this song. “Sweet By and By” may not have a whole lot of depth to it, but it indeed still has a great deal of value to it. I hope this is a sign of what’s to come with her upcoming sixth studio album, expected later this year. I would love to see Miranda strip it back and make a quieter, gritty country record. “Sweet By and By” also serves to build excitement for Southern Family, and it certainly does just that. It happens to one of the most anticipated records of 2016, and after listening to “Sweet By and By” I can understand why. I know I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the full album.
Do yourself a favor, listen to this song, it will do your weary soul a world of good. And while you’re at it, have a look at the making of the song.
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