With the release of her fourth album, Four the Record, Miranda Lambert admits she was a little gun-shy with some of her past projects.
Hard to believe, right? After all, just look at her album titles.
Her 2005 debut, Kerosene, featured a title track about smoking cigarettes and killing off her cheating man. In 2007, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, well, pretty much speaks for itself, and 2009’s Revolution featured her as a vengeful “White Liar.”
“I think before I wasn’t open-minded enough to put a little bit of everything on an album,” she recently told CMT.com. “But I was ready on this one.”
Indeed, she was. With Four the Record, she continues to keep her feisty flair yet also manages to tap into several different facets of her personality and music.
“I feel like I’ve come a long way in my normal life — not just my career,” she explained. “I’ve grown a ton in my career but also grown as a person, and I usually reflect where I am in my life on my albums.”
In fact, just this year, Lambert married country star Blake Shelton, formed an all-female band, the Pistol Annies, won her second consecutive CMA female vocalist of the year award and debuted at the top of the Billboard charts with her new album.
Her 14-track project boasts a number of lively Lambert tunes fans have come to adore including her current Top 5 single, “Baggage Claim,” as well as “Mama’s Broken Heart” and a song she wrote with her Pistol Annies bandmate, Angaleena Presley, on “Fastest Girl in Town.”
“To me, this is classic Miranda Lambert — what you would expect to hear from me,” she said of the latter tune. “Almost like it could have been on Kerosene. And I love that it’s probably the first song in years that said ’hankerin’,'” she laughed.
This same sense of humor and witty attitude are also intertwined throughout her lyrics. In “Easy Living,” a song she co-wrote with Scotty Wray, she sings, “People keep searching for a reason why/They say life’s a bitch and then you die/But I can’t see a reason for their point of view/’Cause it’s easy living, easy loving you.”
“I went into this album with no plan,” Lambert explained. “I kind of just went in. I had the songs, and I wanted the songs to lead the way for the creativity. And that’s why every single song sounds different. None of them sound anything alike. But, somehow, together they become a record.”
From her optimistic album opener, “All Kinds of Kinds,” and the regretful “Nobody’s Fool” to the sexual undertones of “Fine Tune,” where she finds a man with all the right attributes, Lambert entertains other qualities of her multi-faceted persona.
She’s reflective in the Gillian Welch/David Rawlings cover, “Look at Miss Ohio,” gentle with Allison Moorer’s “Oklahoma Sky,” smitten in “Safe” and well, rather pissed off in “Same Old You,” her traditional country-sounding Brandi Carlile tune.
“It’s very, very old school country,” she said of the playful tune. “It reminds me of Loretta [Lynn].”
But as much as her audience has come to adore her girl-with-an-attitude edge, Lambert also comfortably balances the album with a sentimental softness.
Take for example, “Over You,” a song she co-wrote with Shelton. Inspired by the loss of his older brother who was killed in a car accident at age 24, Shelton was only 14 at the time of his death. The song cries, “They say I’ll be OK/But I’m not going to ever get over you/Living alone, here in this place.”
“He was kind of sharing about that event with me and sort of opening up about the experience,” she said of the song’s creation. “You could take this song as a love song, but it’s about someone that you lost.
“It was a really emotional time that we spent writing this song together. I think it took our relationship to another level. I’m really proud of it. It means a lot to me that he trusts me to put his story out there for the whole world to hear on my record.”
And fans will also be happy to hear the couple’s duet. They recorded “Better in the Long Run,” a song written by Pistol Annies member Ashley Monroe, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and veteran songwriter Gordie Sampson.
“We just thought it was time to do a serious duet — not something tongue-in-cheek, something funny,” Lambert said of choosing the perfect duet. “We weren’t really sure what we wanted to do. We didn’t really have a vision.”
However, when the two heard the demo sung by Monroe and Kelley, their minds were made up.
“We just kind of looked at each other, and we’re like, ’Let’s cut this.’ The fact that we agreed that easily was a no-brainer,” she laughed.
But don’t expect to find only mushy love songs regarding wedded bliss. Just listen to “Dear Diamond,” a song with a cheating theme she wrote alone soon after she became engaged.
“When you first get engaged, as the girl, you’re constantly starting at your ring, showing everybody your ring,” she said. “I just thought it would be a cool concept to write a song to my ring. And, of course, the dark side of me just kind of leaned toward the darker version instead of going happy with it. But I think that was the right way to go.”
Lambert leaves her listeners with an unpredictable track list, one worth pressing repeat to fully understand where she’s heading next. Full of surprises around each corner, it’s safe to say Lambert’s fans aren’t disappointed with her disarranged direction.
“It’s not one of those albums that you can listen to one song and think that’s probably what the whole record sounds like because it’s all over the map,” she said.
“But, hopefully, in a good way,” she laughed.