[2 October 2009]
Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (MCT)
Miranda Lambert phoned the morning after, and she was wired and tired.
The night before, the critically acclaimed country star had performed her much-anticipated new album, “Revolution,” in its entirety at the revered Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. She was extremely nervous. But she managed to pull it off in front of fan-club members, industry tastemakers and Taylor Swift.
“I’m still floating around a little bit,” Lambert said last Friday at 10 a.m., hardly working hours for a night-gigging country star. “Every song got a huge reaction. It was unbelievable. I’m going to have to take a nap, for sure.”
This week, with “Revolution” released on Tuesday, Lambert is really working it: She appeared on “Good Morning America,” “Late Show With David Letterman” and “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”
“We have to go from New York to L.A., and I wanted to do some shows in between,” she said. “I’m thankful for all the media I get to do, but (performing) on the road is where my heart is.”
There are great expectations for Lambert’s third album. The firebrand’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was the critics’ runaway country album of the year in 2007; it produced her first Top 10 single, the incendiary “Gunpowder and Lead,” and sold 794,000 copies.
If you think “Revolution” is another collection of he-done-me-wrong-and-I’m-gonna-shoot-him songs, then all you need to know is what the pistol-packing, boot-strutting 25-year-old wore when recording these new songs: puppy-dog slippers.
“Those seem to be my lucky shoes this year,” the dog-obsessed singer (she has five pooches, two on tour) said of the comfy footwear she bought at Target. “I thought I made a great record; I don’t know if the dog slippers had anything to do with it. I have ridiculous superstitions that way. They’re going to go into the vault, that’s for sure.”
Lambert has mellowed. Or matured might be a better description. She’s actually singing tender tunes, including “Virginia Bluebell” and “Love Song,” co-written with her beau, singer Blake Shelton.
“I’ve settled in a little bit — know who I am,” she said. “I’ve got a farm and a relationship. I don’t feel like I have to prove anything anymore. I’ve chilled out just a little. I’m not the crazy girl with the gun all the time. That’s part of who I am, but I have so much more to say, and I think I’ve said it on this record.”
Lambert grapples with her image (“I ain’t the kind you take home to mama,” she sings at the beginning of “Heart Like Mine”) and her fantasies (“Sometimes I wished I lived in an Airstream/ Homemade curtains, lived just like a gypsy,” she sings in “Airstream Song”). Of course, she can still raise a ruckus, as evidenced on the rockin’ “Sin for a Sin” and Julie Miller’s “Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go,” one of only three songs on the 15-tune disc that Lambert did not write.
The ever-feisty Texan stole one number, “The House That Built Me,” from Shelton, to whom it was pitched for his album. Was he OK with that? “I don’t know,” she said with a cunning chuckle, “I never asked.”
Even though Lambert hasn’t gotten the kind of radio exposure given to Carrie Underwood, she built an impressive following with her first two albums, selling 1.8 million discs thanks to relentless touring with Kenny Chesney, George Strait and others. The momentum is continuing with “Revolution.” Early reviews have been ecstatic: an A from Entertainment Weekly, four stars from Rolling Stone and a rave from the New York Times praising its “breadth of emotional experience” and suggesting the disc should have been titled “Evolution.”
Why did she call it “Revolution”?
“Because it’s exciting, and something new is gonna happen,” she said. “I kind of reinvented myself artistically and musically on this record.”
In addition to recording a few softer songs, the kerosene-and-gunpowder Lambert has fluffed up her image by appearing in a TV commercial for cotton.
“They called us, and we thought it would be a really cool match. It’s kind of all-American,” said the new face of cotton on spots seen on Lifetime and other channels. “Cotton will never go out of style. Also, the most cotton that’s grown is in my home state of Texas. So that persuaded me even more.”
Lest you think Lambert has turned into a pillow-fluffing, submissive lovebird, she still performs onstage with a microphone stand fashioned from the butt of a gun.
“It’s a shotgun mike stand,” she said. “My bus driver had it made for me for my birthday when I turned 25. I love it. It’s awesome.”
“Revolution” will not take the guns away from this Texas girl.