It is an accepted truth that pain and art are forever linked, if for no other reason than well-done art makes you feel something about its subject. And pain? Well, you get the picture. Such is the case with LeAnn Rimes’s latest album Spitfire, which for the first time musically confronts the very personal trials and tribulations that Rimes has weathered in a public forum over the past three years.
Spitfire kicks off with its title track, and if you think it is just a simple “I’m a sassy chick” song, think again: “’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.” It becomes immediately clear that Spitfire is not just a confessional of transgressions on the singer’s part, but also a line in the sand for the people who have done her wrong as well, including her current husband’s ex-wife Brandi Glanville. That’s a bold move, given the bile and vitriol aimed at Rimes on a regular basis online and in the media. Whether or not you accept that Rimes is only human in her choices or is the monster some believe her to be, there is no denying that an album this forthcoming deserves to be judged on its own merits instead of the events that may have inspired it.
If Spitfire is a big middle finger to those who feel the need to perpetuate and trump up the actions of the past, then the polar opposite is “What Have I Done,” a simple acoustic song which expresses remorse in wronging a person she loved. In this case, that person is most likely her first husband Dean Sheremet, whom she left for actor Eddie Cibrian and who (amazingly) shares a co-writing credit on “God Takes Care of Your Kind.” While no one should ever have to go through that type of public breakup, the pain and the anguish all comes rushing out in “Done,” with an emotional assist on backup vocals by Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski of Alison Kraus and Union Station. From there, the mostly co-written songs that Rimes offers up run an emotional lap around the track, culminating in “Who We Really Are.” While you would expect a song with this title to be a personal declaration that everything one goes through makes them who they are, the closing song is offered as support for someone else instead. Whether it is current husband Cibrian, ex-husband Sheremet or even ex-wife Glanville, it is a lesson all of us need to be reminded of from time to time.
So is there a moral to be gained from Spitfire? There are many, depending on what you are looking for. However, the biggest lesson here is “go with what you know.” You might end up with one of the best albums of your career as a result.