While sitting in a parked car in Marfa last September, the musicians Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, and Jon Randall listened to their “work tapes”—what songwriters call raw recordings they typically make just after finishing a song. These iPhone recordings documented the trio of Texas natives’ four trips over seven years to West Texas, where they occasionally held loose songwriting sessions.
But relistening to their tapes that fall night, it occurred to Lambert that most of the trio’s work wasn’t likely to reach any listeners. So she proposed they record slightly better versions of the songs and release them as an album.
“That was probably the Tito’s talking,” Lambert says. “But the next morning, in the sober light of day, it still felt like a legitimate idea.”
A few months later, they returned to Marfa to record what they’d wind up calling The Marfa Tapes, out May 7 on Vanner Records/RCA Nashville. The low-key campfire setup—which involved a pair of microphones and an acoustic guitar—was a departure for three musicians accustomed to proper studios and generous budgets.
Lambert says the trio immediately agreed that the songs called for atmosphere, not sheen, and they recorded virtually everything on its first take. Listening to the album, you can hear desert wind bleeding through the mixes, along with plenty of laughter, and a handful of flubbed lyrics.
Visit texasmonthly.com to read the full story and Q&A with Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, and Jon Randall…
Watch the music video for “Tin Man” (Acoustic) now from the new album, The Marfa Tapes, below: