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story.lead_photo.caption Miranda Lambert

Let's get straight to the point: Singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert is not just the greatest country artist working today but (with apologies to perhaps Kendrick Lamar and Bob Dylan, still out there on a road somewhere) the best popular musician of our time. As they say on social media, want to argue about it? Come at me.

My stance on this crucial issue got a tremendous boost from the Saturday night stop at Verizon Arena for Lambert's Living Like Hippies tour. Haul out your example of products of singular talents at their peak -- Steph Curry's jump shot, Charles Portis' Dog of the South, anything Joni Mitchell did in the early '70s -- and it will compare to this moment in Lambert's career.

Like getting a five-star meal in a nondescript location, Lambert's turn looked for all the world like that of any other popular country star come to town. In fact, unlike in years past, when Lambert and her cohorts played among fire pots and synchronized dancing lights, this go-round had more backing musicians and decidedly less spectacle. The most striking visual was the white fringe that adorned the sleeves of Lambert's red blouse.

The focus of the night, approximately 90 minutes long, was where it needed to be: on Lambert's incisive delivery of her ungodly rich songbook.

Ostensibly the tour (OK, let's concede there's a better song title out there) is in support of 2016's The Weight of These Wings (a double album, Lambert's sixth). Saturday's song list stretched back to the exhilarating 2005 hit "Kerosene," making stops at every step of her development, from the quirky "All Kinds of Kinds" to the reflective "House That Built Me" to "Bathroom Sink," an introspective song that live took on a marvelous righteous anger.

The surprise of the night was that Lambert included two hits from her side project, the Pistol Annies. An even bigger surprise: Fellow Pistol Annies Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley joining Lambert on stage for the pitch-black tunes "Hell on Heels" and "Pills."

By Lambert's sole encore, the rollicking "Little Red Wagon," the crowd had been worked to a fine frenzy. Earlier, Lambert, who is blessedly light with the stage patter, said, "I feel everything and I want you to feel it too." It was some kind of trick to embed in an all-world stem-winder a pithy review that can't be topped.

We'll let it slide this time, Miranda.

Metro on 03/12/2018

Print Headline: Lambert's singular talent gets feature

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