It's taken roughly a decade, but Miranda Lambert has learned to loosen up.
Up to this point, the multiple Country Music Association-, Academy of Country Music- and Grammy Award-winning artist has built an artistic reputation around electric and empowering tunes like Kerosene, Gunpowder & Lead and White Liar. All three, along with a fistful of other hits, have helped modernize the roles of women in the country music marketplace.
But sift through the songs on her fifth and newest album, Platinum, and you come to a song called Gravity is a Bitch. More than perhaps any tune Lambert has cut, Gravity embraces a playful and ultimately accepting view of real life — the kind of attitude adopted after an artist that has clocked serious time and mileage under her wheels.
"This album is a snapshot of where I am right now," said Lambert, who returns to Rupp Friday night for a headlining concert, in a recent email interview. "Turning 30, I think, has had a bit to do with the kind of music I wrote and chose for this project.
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"I have always had a theme to my music, which is being who you are and saying what you want to say no matter what. But Platinum has more humor than any previous album. Songs like Gravity is a Bitch... well, that one really would not have made sense when I was 21. Now at 31, I'm understanding it a little more."
Lexington audiences have been able to watch, step-by-step, Lambert's remarkable ascent to stardom over the past decade, from a performance as an unknown at the July 4th Red, White & Boom celebration that followed the release of her 2005 major label debut album, Kerosene, to the release of Platinum last fall. The latter coincided with Lambert landing on the cover (along with several other new generation country stars) of the up-until-recently non-country Rolling Stone magazine.
"I think probably every artist wants to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, and I am no different," Lambert said. "I was honored to be on the cover and thrilled to see other country artists get that chance as well. Our genre has become a cool place to be in recent years."
Of course, with her star status long ago confirmed, much of Lambert's life has been put under a microscope, from her music dealings to her marriage. Having fellow country celeb Blake Shelton as a husband, especially, has made a portion of her private life very public. While the two have been regularly toasted as one of country's ultimate power couples, they have also become easy targets for paparazzi and tabloid publications.
"It took a minute to adjust to because (everything) happened so fast," Lambert said. "Going out to a restaurant with flashing lights and people waiting outside for you became a 'what just happened moment.' As you can imagine, it's not something I enjoy, but I realize it's all part of it. What makes me happy is that I get to live my real life simply on our farm in Oklahoma and on the road with my band entertaining my fans."
Entertaining is something that has furthered Lambert's popularity almost as swiftly as her recordings. Her stage shows are full of immediate, rockish intent that blends her own hits with covers of rock 'n' roll staples by ZZ Top, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Faces. Such drive was put on full display when Lambert played a sold-out 2009 Lexington concert at the Lexington Legends' ballpark, then-named Applebee's Park, with Jason Aldean in an unrelenting, evening-long rainstorm.
"I remember that night well," Lambert said. "It was raining buckets and we were all hoping there wouldn't be any lightning so we could keep performing. I love it when the fans are that into your show no matter what. That night it was pouring rain, they were singing along and dancing. I took off my boots, as the stage was slippery, and danced barefoot. What fun!
"It's easy to be in the moment when you have thousands of fans singing along to songs. It makes you go above and beyond to give it your all."