Miranda Lambert on her new album and married life with Blake Shelton

Miranda Lambert on her new album and married life with Blake Shelton
Photo by Randee St. Nicholas

Country singer Miranda Lambert has made a name for herself as a feisty, strong, torch-your-ex's-house-if-he-screws-you-over kind of girl. While she's still as tough as ever, her newest album Four the Record gives fans a chance to see a softer side of Lambert. As she prepare to perform a sold-out show at Grand Casino Hinckley Saturday as part of her On Fire tour, Gimme Noise caught up with Lambert to chat about her new music, married life and what it's like to be the reigning country female vocalist of the year.

Gimme Noise: Congratulations on winning two ACM Awards this year! What was your reaction when you heard your name called for Female Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year?

Miranda Lambert: I put so much into my albums that I consider them my babies and I love making music that other people seem to enjoy. I always hope the audience will be as inspired by the song choices as I am. Each time I have won a Female Vocalist award, I think back to my first one from the CMA which Loretta Lynn presented to me. That was one of the biggest highlights of my career and I hope I can keep making music all my life like Loretta has. I am so blessed to get to do what I love for a living and winning awards just puts it over the top. I try to take my career one day at a time and thoroughly appreciate all the good moments as they come.

You have achieved so much success in your career. When you were competing in Nashville Star back in 2003 did you ever think you'd end up where you are today?

Being on Nashville Star was a great opportunity for me. I didn't win that season so I knew there was some hard work ahead, but I think I was lucky to not win because the winner usually has to record pretty quickly and deliver music to the marketplace. I was only 19 and needed some time to collect my thoughts and figure out exactly what I wanted to say on that first album. I was very determined to make a life in the music industry so I had high hopes, but I could have never imagined all the amazing experiences I have been lucky enough to have. When I got my record deal I had a vision and didn't want anyone to tell me what type of songs to sing and what kind of artist to be. Luckily the head of the record label had faith in me and told me to just go and make my record, for which I am very grateful to this day. 

What do you attribute your success to?

I feel like my success is due to a combination of a lot of things -- my love for music, hard work, my supportive family, my amazing fans, my record label, country radio...I could go on and on. I am incredibly thankful for the strong support I have from my fans and from my peers in the industry. I also hope that I always remain in touch with my country roots and with what is important in life. Life seems to work out better when you have your priorities in order. 

Who are some of your musical influences?

Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn are two of my favorite songwriters and I try to follow their no-holds-barred approach to writing. Their songs have stood the test of time and I hope mine will do the same. In addition to all the country greats, I am inspired by a lot of artists in different genres - everyone from John Fogerty to Aretha Franklin to Brandi Carlile.  

Let's talk about your new album Four the Record. What was it like to record the entire album in just five days? 

I wanted Four the Record to sound like a complete and cohesive piece of art so I decided to stick with a short timeline of recording like I did with Revolution [in 2009]. I have worked with my producer Frank Liddell on all of my albums and I trust his opinion in the studio. We always work together to find a sound that we both love; it's a great collaboration with him and the musicians.    

How would you describe Four the Record?

I don't think one song can truly represent Four the Record. Songs like "Mama's Broken Heart" have a punk-sort of sound to them, while there are modern takes on classic country with tracks like "Easy Living." I am at the point in my career where I feel more free to try out different material and sounds. For each album, I let the music that I love at that point in my life be my guide. People naturally change a lot during their twenties, so my songs reflect that progression. I am still the feisty girl I was on Kerosene, so Angaleena Presley and I wrote my newest single "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 and I hope everyone can find a song that speaks to them.

Your album Revolution was extremely popular. Did you feel pressure to live up to that album?  

My last album Revolution came out in 2009, so it was time to make a new album and have a new tour. I did feel pressure with my newest album because everyone was wondering how it could possibly top the success of my last one. Revolution was a big milestone for my career and I am so grateful for how the fans and my peers in the industry embraced it. So with Four the Record, I decided that there was really only one way I could make sure I loved it as much as Revolution and that was by letting the music lead me. Now that I feel that I did that, I know I will always be proud of this album no matter what comes next.

So many of your songs depict strong, empowered women. Where do you get your strong female inspiration from?

I love strong, empowered women and come from a family of them. My mom, Bev, and my grandma, Nonny, are terrific ladies and great role models. I think people appreciate this kind of confidence because it is real, plain-spoken and inspiring.  I am not a size zero, and I never will be, and I love it when girls come up to me and thank me for being "normal." I have had folks tell me that songs like "Gunpowder and Lead" gave them the courage to leave abusive relationships and that is the highest compliment I have ever received as a songwriter.

You won countless nominations and awards for the song "The House That Built Me," and you've said in interviews that you really connected to that song because it was reminiscent of a time in your childhood.  How do you think your childhood has shaped you into the person you are today?

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. There was also a difficult time in our family when my parents lost their business and we had to move into an old farmhouse, fix it up and somewhat live off the land. I think that is why I connected so deeply to "The House That Built Me." I am so proud of where I come from and I hope my life is an example of how normal people's dreams can come true with enough determination.

You've been married [to country singer Blake Shelton] for a little over a year now. How has the first year of marriage been?

Being married is great because now I know, no matter what, someone will have my back. That's a feeling that helps you be yourself and go out there and perform at your best. It's also wonderful being married to someone in my industry because he understands what I'm going through and we can talk about our art and our business.   

You will be playing at Grand Casino on Saturday. What are you most looking forward to? Is there anything special you like to do while you're in Minnesota

I always look forward to seeing my fans in Minnesota. I'm hoping there might be a lake or river nearby so I can try to get in some fishing! I can't wait to come rock out in Hinckley

Miranda Lambert will play a sold-out show at Grand Casino Hinckley on Saturday, August 11.

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