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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Miranda Lambert "Kerosene" Song Analysis

Reader Mike Ward requested a song analysis of Miranda Lambert's "Kerosene," a single from her 2005 debut album of the same name. The song was cowritten with Steve Earle and reached #15 on Billboard's Hot Country charts. As in all song analysis, we'll look at the song form, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"Kerosene" is an interesting song in that it uses a modified blues form that's 16 bars long instead of 12. What can be termed as the chorus comes on the last 4 bars. The form looks like this.

Intro, Verse, Verse, Bridge, Verse, Verse, Outro

It's a compact song coming in at about 3 minutes even, but well conceived in that it's both interesting and makes sense from a songwriting standpoint as well.

The Arrangement
This is really a rock song that happens to have a vocal with a country twang. There's no steel or fiddle here, but there is a banjo that comes in the 4rth verse. It's played in such a way that you just feel it's another instrument texture though, so unless you listen hard, it never comes across as a banjo.

Given that this is almost like a blues song with similar repeated verses (not taking the lyrics into account), the arrangement really keeps the song interesting. Listen to how the bass doesn't come until the 2nd verse, then takes the song to a whole other level. Then check out how the feel of the bridge changes to give the song a peak.

The 4th and last verse is the one I like though. The electric and acoustic rhythm guitars that push the song lay out and you hear the banjo (it almost sounds like a piano for a second), then they return at the end lift the song up. The first half of the bridge is then used as the outro.

The Sound
"Kerosene" is pretty much in your face with not many effects. On the last verse the snare gets an interesting room sound, but there's not much other ambience, even on the vocal. The bass is especially big sounding, and since the snare is playing quarter notes almost throughout, the kick isn't as up front as it usually is in most songs.

The Production
There's a lot to like about the production of "Kerosene," which was produced by Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke. The snare quarter notes throughout the song is very unusual but really drives the beat home, and the tambourine on 2 and 4 almost takes the place of the usual snare timekeeping. I especially like the harp and slide solo on the bridge, then how the bridge is used as an outro with a solid ending instead of a fade. All in all, quite enjoyable.

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1 comment:

CaptainVictory said...

Hadn't heard this song before now. It's a really good toe-tapper. I think it'd sound way better without the Autotune, though. Texas girls don't need it!


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