How many double albums have you bought in the past ten years? And how many of those albums were new, original music? And take it one step further -- how many were country albums? You can probably count the number on one hand.
That's because not many artists release double albums anymore. But not many people have the ambition of Miranda Lambert. On Friday, Nov. 18, she releases The Weight Of These Wings, a rare double album of all new recorded music.
Conventional thinking says we live in a "singles" market. Most artists are lucky to get your attention for three and a half minutes. If it's good enough, you may check out a few tunes on an EP. And then maybe that warrants a look at a full record.
Our attention is divided, and our access to new music is nearly limitless. So if a record doesn't carry us every song, there's a good chance we don't make it all the way through. People just don't usually experience music in the same way they used to listen to a full record on vinyl.
We get our music everywhere now, but we get it in small, specific doses. It's a double-edged sword. If one song on an album let's a listener down, they may move on and never come back. That's one reason you don't see a lot of double albums anymore.
Which makes it all the more impressive that Miranda Lambert reportedly wrote 60 songs for the record and recorded 30 over the course of a year. She then whittled it down to two discs of 12 songs each, titled "The Nerve" and "The Heart." Not surprisingly, the record's lead single "Vice" comes from The Nerve, which represents the outer shell/persona Lambert created over the past decade.
Longtime producer Frank Liddell said the whole process felt very natural. And yes, Miranda Lambert's divorce from Blake Shelton obviously inspired the move.
"She came to me a year-and-a-half ago and was going through a lot," Liddell told Billboard. "She said, 'I really just want to take a look at myself, what I've been doing, what I've been going through, write about it, live through it and make a record.' She wanted to look at herself as introspectively as possible, and how she got here, and make the record that's reflecting that."
Perhaps one reason so few artists release double albums? So few artists know what they want to say enough to warrant one.
Most artists don't have a lot of time. Obligations stretch them thin, and recorded music doesn't make as much money anymore. So, artists focus heavily on touring, marketing and other appearances. Album releases serve as a vehicle for other revenue streams.
But not with Lambert, and not with this record. Liddell notes that the decision to make a double album wasn't "calculated," but merely a natural result of her own creative process.
Lambert has built her career around her own voice, a creative risk in and of itself in today's country world. People made a big deal out of Shelton's new music after the pair split. He released it quickly. But in rushing that process, Shelton ended up with the sub-par If I'm Honest.
Critics said "ho-hum," and the label went on the marketing offensive with major sales to move units. The CMA's shut him out of the 50th awards show.
Meanwhile, Miranda Lambert shut out the outside noise and focused on her music. And in the process, she took a huge creative risk few other country artists (Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart) have. All signs point to that risk paying off in the form of her best music yet.