'Spitfire' Music Review: LeAnn Rimes Hits Every Note
Spitfire, the new album from LeAnn Rimes, is aptly named. A gritty, emotional rollercoaster, the album translates the controversy that has surrounded Rimes’s life over the past few years into a collection of songs you want to keep on repeat.
Among the dramas that Rimes seems to address in the album is her affair and later marriage to Northern Lights costar Eddie Cibrian. This ended her marriage to Dean Sheremet, whom she married at age 19, and Cibrian’s marriage to Brandi Glanville. No doubt a tumultuous period in her life, Rimes has said that this album captures its accompanying emotions. Typically, hearing that an album covers the deeper emotions of an artist translates as “boring” to me – but Spitfire is the exception.
The title track, “Spitfire,” appears to be a clear bite at Glanville, who from time to time will publicly criticize Rimes and her role in Glanville and Cibrian’s children’s lives, and Rimes’s detractors, who can’t seem to stop sending her hateful messages. Rimes often remains above it, but with this boisterous, country-twanging song, she retaliates, singing, “Cause I only got one burning desire / To let the whole town know that you're a dirty little liar / I ain’t gonna get stuck in your muck and mire.” With these words, you truly believe that Rimes is ready to explode with frustration and confront her attackers. She won’t stoop to their level, but she can’t ignore them. It’s an indirect hit, of course, addressing no particular person and yet also everyone she’s ever hated with one bold and fun introduction to the album.
A complete 180-degree flip, making it clear that this album isn’t chronological in its storytelling, “What Have I Done” is a slow and emotional song, sounding more like an apology than anything else. Rimes sings, “What have I done, oh what have I done? / I broke the sweetest heart of the only man that’s ever loved me.” Rimes’s uniquely toned voice keeps the slow song from becoming tedious. Rather, the song feels genuine, like one of the truest apologies you’ve ever heard, and is impossible to deny. The slow tempo combined with the country-tinged tones of violin and guitar strums makes it an easy listen.
“Borrowed” tells the story of Rimes’s role as “the other woman,” guilty and in love with a taken man. There’s true pain in her voice, an insecurity that comes through from behind the words and makes you feel nearly as hurt as she sounds. Even if you’ve never been in her exact position, the fear of losing someone you care for to another person is a nearly universal pain.
If I’m being honest, I feel that “You Ain’t Right” doesn’t fit with the rest of the album. Singing a list of everything she does and telling her husband he does nothing, is no good, etcetera, is too simplistic for this album’s otherwise complex emotions. While the other songs have grit and passion behind them, this song feels like a typical good-natured country song that you could hear on any other country album.
“You’ve Ruined Me” is my favorite song on the album. It’s the song you sing with your friends in the car with the windows rolled down, the song you dance around your room to while singing at the top of your lungs. A fun and upbeat tune, Rimes sings to a man who loves her so much it’s ruined her for anyone who might love her in the future. She’s experiencing a love like no other, so sing it out with her, enjoy the accompanying happiness!
“Bottle” echoes the happy sentiment of “You’ve Ruined Me” with its words, “The love she gets is a love that fits every happiness into her heart” (like a full bottle – get it?). However, the music in this song doesn’t fit the lyrics. It’s a little too soft, and makes the words harder to believe. The tones of the music and her voice mesh well, but the lyrics and the music do not, given that it’s such a lyrically positive song.
“Just A Girl Like You” feels like a cautious version of saying, “What the hell?” and jumping out the window. With subtle nuances in her voice, moving easily from note to note, she captures the confusing notion of letting herself love a man who could easily break her heart like he did the woman before her. She sings, “I'm just a girl like you / He may break my heart too / But that's a chance I gotta take / Just like you did.” It’s the song everybody needs – love could always fall apart, but it’s worth the risk.
With the exception of only a few songs, Spitfire is all-around fantastic. Translating the journey of her emotions over the last few years into an album can’t have been an easy feat, but Rimes’s nuanced and gifted vocal ability makes it sound easy. She finds a way to transform her experiences into a great listen. The upbeat songs make you want to sing out loud with her, and the slow songs have enough depth and feeling behind them that you don’t get bored 30 seconds in.
Though this review only covers half of the songs on the album, all are worth a listen. I recommend that everyone take some time and listen through Spitfire it in its entirety and see how they can relate. Anything but boring, Rimes has managed to put out an eleventh album and still keep people coming back for more.
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