Country music might have a history of making its women play by the rules. But Miranda Lambert has made a career of speaking her mind.
Lambert's effortless ability to break your heart one moment (the Grammy-winning ballad "The House That Built Me") and find glee in revenge the next ("Kerosene," a song about Lambert burning down her cheating boyfriend's house, would make her hero Loretta Lynn proud) that makes her one of country music's most vital talents.
"Four the Record," her latest album released in November, finds the 28-year-old newlywed (she married fellow country star Blake Shelton last May) trying new sounds while fine-tuning her songwriting. Before she performs at 1st Mariner Arena on Thursday, Lambert answered some questions via email.
When you came on the scene, it was obvious you had more spunk and fire than a lot of your Nashville peers. Where does that come from?
My parents are spirited people with fun personalities, and they always encouraged me to be true to myself. They were private investigators when I was younger, and I was exposed to a lot of life situations that kids normally aren't. Abused wives and children would occasionally come stay at our house, and I gained so much perspective at an early age from experiences like that. I had a lot to say and prove when I entered the music industry, and I refused to let anyone change my music to fit into the typical mold.
Some have described "Four the Record" as your most experimental album (e.g. "Fine Tune's" hazy production, "Easy Living's" white noise). Do you agree? And how much of a concerted effort is it to make each album sound different from the last?
I do think I am at the point in my career where I felt more free to try out different material and sounds, but I wouldn't really say it's a big effort to make my albums sound different. For each one, I let the music that I love at that point in my life be my guide.
People naturally change a lot during their 20s, so my songs reflect that progression. I am still the feisty girl I was on "Kerosene," so Angaleena Presley and I wrote "Fastest Girl in Town" for "Four the Record," which sounds like it could have been on my first album. But I am incredibly happy right now and more settled, so I also wanted to have songs on this newest record like "Safe" and "Oklahoma Sky" that highlight those feelings. I think "Four the Record" is probably my most balanced look so far at the many facets of life.
You cover Gillian Welch's "Look at Miss Ohio" on the new album. What was it about that song that made you want to not only cover it but include it on your own record?
I am a huge fan of Gillian Welch and her songwriting. I love all her songs so much that I wanted to put one on [2009's] "Revolution," but I was too afraid to try it. I got Karen [Fairchild] and Kimberly [Schlapman] from Little Big Town to sing on "Look at Miss Ohio" to really enhance the vision I had for it, and I hope that I was able to do it justice.
What's your set-list like for this coming tour? Does it lean heavily on any album?
My shows are always a mix of songs from all my albums with some rocking covers thrown in for fun. It's always exciting to have new material, so we will be incorporating several songs from "Four the Record." I love to give the audience some unexpected tunes as well as hits like "Gunpowder and Lead" and "The House That Built Me."
You're a guest star on an upcoming episode of "Law & Order: SVU." How was that experience?
"Law & Order: SVU" is pretty much my favorite show of all time, so it was a thrilling dream-come-true to be on it. I was pretty nervous since it was my first real acting experience, but everyone was really great and helpful, and I had an awesome time.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year? Should we expect another Pistol Annies record before a follow-up to "Four the Record"?
2012 is mainly going to be spent supporting "Four the Record" with my "On Fire" tour. The other Annies and I have enough material right now to make another album, and we are always coming up with new ideas.
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Miranda Lambert performs Thursday at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann also perform. $29.75-$53.75. Call 410-547-7328 or go to 1stmarinerarena.com.