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Miranda Lambert gets personal, adapts to changing times on new album Wildcard

Queen of hearts

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Miranda Lambert Wildcard

Miranda Lambert has been one of the biggest names in country music for almost 15 years. From 2005’s Kerosene to the 2016 double-album The Weight of These Wings, every album she’s put out has gone platinum. She won a Grammy for Best Country Album in 2015, and she’s notched multiple No. 1 country singles, including “The House That Built Me,” “Heart Like Mine,” “Over You” and “Something Bad.” 

Even her side project, a trio called Pistol Annies that also includes Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, is a hit. The group’s three albums have all landed in the Top Five of Billboard’s Country Album chart.

With that much success, one might assume that Lambert would feel confident about the prospects of her just-released new album, Wildcard.

One would be incorrect. It’s been three years since Lambert’s last album, and she’s keenly aware that the musical landscape has changed since then.

“I feel a little bit confused,” Lambert says. “I’m excited about the record, but usually we have these projections like, ‘We want to sell this many records,’ and I at least have an idea of what’s going to happen. And this time I really don’t because it’s more about streaming than physical product. The younger generation is buying music in so many different ways that I don’t know what to expect.”

Perhaps as a nod toward that younger generation’s attention spans, in the months leading up to Wildcard’s Nov. 1 release, Lambert released a slew of singles. 

“We did things differently this time,” she offers. “We released six songs from the record before it came out, and we’d never really done that before. It’s the way it’s going nowadays, and it feels different, because usually you have one or two songs out and you can’t wait for people to hear the whole thing. And now people have heard all of those tracks. And I don’t know if you know the audience now listens to music the way that I do. I’m 35, so I still want to hear the whole record. I’m hoping that people go old-school and listen to it as a whole.”

Whether or not Wildcard goes platinum remains to be seen, but artistically speaking, Lambert says she feels like she’s on a roll right now, both as a performer and a songwriter. It’s a streak Lambert says she’s been on since writing or co-writing 20 of the 24 songs on 2016’s The Weight Of These Wings, a confessional-style album that some critics interpreted as being about her high-profile divorce from fellow country star Blake Shelton.

“I feel like it was a lot more of a songwriting record than I’d done before,” she says, “both because it was a double album and because I wrote so much for that record. I came into my own as a songwriter more than I had before.”

Tonally, Wildcard is a lighter album than The Weight of These Wings, hearkening back to Lambert’s earlier, slyly defiant and catchy country hits with songs like the no-regrets sing-along “It’ll All Come Out in the Wash,” and the poppy, electronics-spiked rocker “Mess With My Head.” But Lambert says in some ways it’s just as personal as her previous release, and not just because she co-wrote all of the songs.

“I got a tattoo last October of a wild card, the queen of hearts,” she reveals, “and it’s kind of a symbol of everything I’ve come through, and for me to remind myself that I’m the queen of my own heart. And it seems like I’ve been called a wild card before, because you never know what I’m going to say or do. I think this record has some sarcasm and some fun, and it’s kind of what drew people to my music in the first place.”

Lambert says she’s playing five or six of the songs from Wildcard on her Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars tour, which brings her to Columbia this week. The show will also include a mini-set with the Pistol Annies and performances by fellow platinum-selling country star Maren Morris and rising Canadian singer Tenille Townes. 

Lambert says that the idea behind the tour was to bring together people whose music she enjoyed, not to create an all-female show, even if she’s certainly not against women helping each other out.  

“It wasn’t intentional, it was just who was inspiring me at the time,” she asserts. “I just felt like we need to inspire each other, band together and help each other out. If we don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for us.”  

What: Miranda Lambert

Where: Colonial Life Arena, 801 Lincoln St.

When: Friday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m.

With: Maren Morris, Pistol Annies, Tenille Townes

Price: $25-$325

More: 803-576-9200,

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