Firmly established as a formidable country star with her 2009 album Revolution, Miranda Lambert takes some liberties on its 2011 sequel, Four the Record, letting the music breathe and not being afraid to have no less than eight of its 14 songs bear credits by other writers. No other Lambert album relies so heavily on tunes from other songwriters, and while it’s certainly true she may have been kept busy by her side project Pistol Annies (a trio with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, whose album appeared just two months before Four the Record and contained eight Lambert co-writes), the lack of emphasis on writing shifts focus to the music, which is assured, relaxed, and varied. After slowly opening with “All Kinds of Kinds,” the album hits a slinky, quirky blues grind on “Fine Tune,” cruises into rocking country on “Fastest Girl in Town,” kicks up dust on “Mama’s Broken Heart,” gets real gone on the honky tonk throwback “Same Old You,” belts out country-soul on “Baggage Claim,” and does a soft-shoe shuffle on “Easy Living,” all sly but substantial changes of pace that give Four the Record considerable depth.
Miranda Lambert has had one heck of a year. In May, the 27-year-old Texas native married fellow country star Blake Shelton, then earned a No. 1 debut with her Pistol Annies side project in August. And now she’s releasing the follow-up to her award-sweeping 2009 smash Revolution — proof that the onetime Nashville Star contestant has officially become Nashville royalty.
If her first three albums were all about using genre archetypes and a whip-smart songwriting voice to develop an artistic persona of nearly unprecedented depth and complexity, Miranda Lambert’s fourth album, Four the Record, is all about risk calculus. Though she’s never adhered to the strict guidelines that Music Row tends to impose on its artists (and on its female artists, in particular), Lambert has never flaunted convention as willfully or as recklessly as she does on her latest album. There’s always something to be said for artists who are willing to experiment and push boundaries, but Four the Record is the first album of Lambert’s career wherein her reach exceeds her grasp.
One of the more priceless exchanges on NPR this year came during a conversation between Texas singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert and reporter Renee Montagne, on October 27: Montagne, haltingly: “I take it that your parents occasionally would open your home to women who were trying to escape abusive marriages. ” Lambert: “Well, ‘Gunpowder & Lead’. .
Today in Nashville only Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars have more crossover appeal, but neither act is as unapologetically country as Miranda Lambert, who has managed to build a sizable fanbase without checking her twang. Like she’s mixing a cocktail and won’t say what she’s making you drink, the Lindale, Texas native has her own special blend of country and classic rock, and around the time the room starts spinning, you’d swear her secret was a dash of punk insouciance. Feature Story: The Evolution of Miranda Lambert On her first two albums, Lambert’s tales of murdering abusive men exploded country’s tasteful decorum and struck a blow for badass women everywhere.
“Revolution’’ may have been the title of Miranda Lambert’s award-winning 2009 release but the real revolution is afoot on her fourth solo album, “Four the Record.’’ The newly minted Mrs. Blake Shelton - who duets with his bride here - takes the clout she’s earned and runs with it. On a rock solid and expansive set of songs, Lambert mixes backbeats, production styles, fuzzed-out vocals, slinky slide guitars, and other offbeat elements into a cohesive whole.