She might be firmly in her mid-30s, but Miranda Lambert will never let her age impede who she is, especially when it comes to her music. Lambert is opening up about her recent Wildcard album, which came three years after her heavy The Weight of These Wings, and why she not only switched producers but returned to the style that first introduced her to country music, 15 years ago, with Kerosene.
"I felt I needed to get back to what made my career in the first place, that image of me as a feisty woman," Lambert told the Nashville Scene. "And even though at 36, now, I can't do that all the time, I knew I had to mix that back in. In a live show, you can only sing so many ballads. In a performance-based business, you have to have something to perform."
The Weight of These Wings came as she was reeling from her divorce to Blake Shelton, which unfortunately made her, and Shelton, mainstays in the news at a time when all she wanted was space to recover. The result became 24 songs that helped her grieve and heal, making it a success even if it lacked the commercial appeal that some of her other records had.
"That was the closest I've come to doing something just for myself, a singer-songwriter record," Lambert noted. "I didn't set out to do that, but I was back in Nashville and drawn into that world. The songs were gushing out, and I needed that, because I was going through a hard time. I holed up in this unglamorous studio for a year-and-a-half, which is the way you'd want to do it if you have the freedom to do it, and I had that freedom.
"I was going through a very public divorce, and I wasn't going to shy away from that," she continued. "I could have done something shiny and covered it up, but that wouldn't have been honest. I've always been brutally honest about myself. I couldn't start hiding things at that point."
Lambert just celebrated a Top 15 hit with the Grammy-nominated "It All Comes Out in the Wash," and is back at radio with "Bluebird." Both songs toe the line between commercial and art, a delicate balance Lambert has learned to navigate, mostly out of necessity.
"Critical acclaim is nice," Lambert said. "It's something that's important to me. But at the end of the day, that's not enough if you're standing on the stage and no one's heard the single because no one's played it. It's nice to be recognized for your art, but I want commercial success too.
"I want to walk the line between them," she continued. "To have both is what guarantees longevity, because you're keeping everyone happy: the companies, the critics, the fans. Luckily the records I've made are the records I like."
Photo Credit: Getty / Tim Mosenfelder