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Miranda Lambert sees victory in failure to win

By Jeffrey B. Remz, March 2005

Failure to win Nashville Star when you've come oh so close ought to be a huge disappointment and ego blow, right?

Not if your name is Miranda Lambert, who views her third place finish in the inaugural American Idol event for the country crowd in 2003 as a blessing in disguise.

And she is not the only one who feels that way.

In fact, the emergence of Buddy Jewell as the winner may have done more to boost Lambert's career than if she had won.

The proof may come when her major label debut, "Kerosene," is released by Sony Nashville March 15.

"Not at all," says Lambert in a telephone interview from her home in tiny Lindale, Texas when asked about any disappointment with her third place finish. "I really didn't want to win honestly. I guess because Buddy Jewell had to make a record in a month. Here I was 19 years old, and I had no clue what to do in the studio really. I didn't have all my songs finished. I knew the producer I wanted to use even though Clint Black is a well-known artist. (Black was guaranteed to produce the winner's album) I just didn't think we could get that together with him. Third place is perfect. I got the same exposure as Buddy Jewell."

The deal with Nashville Star and Sony was that the label had first dibs on any artist in the competition besides the winner. The only other singer Sony inked was Lambert. She started recording her album in about September 2003.

Lambert, a very pretty blonde-haired singer, may be young and friendly, but she also indicates she knew exactly what she wanted to do with "Kerosene."

"I was trying to make an album I wanted to make whether anyone else thought it was good or not. I wrote my own songs. I knew who I wanted to produce it right away - I knew that three years ago - Frank Liddell. (Liddell, Lee Ann Womack's husband, has played a key role in her career and produced Chris Knight and Jack Ingram. Mike Wrucke also produced.) I accomplished the only goal I had for that record."

"I try not to set too many goals because this business is so unpredictable. Some other blonde girl could come out with an album much better than mine."

But Lambert is confident with the final product. "I believe in it so much," she says.

Originally slated for release last fall, the album was delayed because of the Christmas buying rush when shoppers tend to focus on the huge, well-known artists putting out new albums instead of a rookie.

"I was fine with that," says Lambert. "It didn't bother me at all."

"I had time to get my band together," she says. "We had to do some regrouping with members. We got out there a little bit. I'm not in a hurry. I'm 21. Some people wait three years for an album just to come out. I'm thankful for just a year. It takes time."

What type of country music does Lambert play on the 12 songs, all except 1 she had a hand in writing? Some honky tonk ("I Can't Be Bothered"), bluesy swampy sounds ("I Wanna Die," "Love Is Looking for You"), ballads ("There's a Wall") and a Sheryl Crow-type vibe ("Love is Looking For You Now") are at the core of her music with a voice that recalls Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and Crow.

Lambert comes out blazing with the lead-off title track with a big, authoritative voice and steely guitars.

"I wrote that in the car on the way to judging a Nashville Star competition in Houston. My mom was driving, and I wrote that song in about 20 minutes."

"I think I was mad. That's what it sounds like to me. I don't even remember what triggered that. I just was in a bad mood."

The first single is "Me and Charlie Talking," which Lambert considers the most different sounding song on the album. The song, penned with her father and now next-door neighbor, Heather Little, is about a girlhood friend and growing up.

Father Rick Lambert, who spends most of his time as a private detective, says the song was "a true story of a kid (Little) had remembered from childhood. She started writing it, and she wrote the first verse and chorus. Miranda was writing another verse, and she was sitting in my study. A lot of these songs get written on the way to the bathroom. I walked through there, and she said, 'Daddy, I'm hung up on this song'. She calls me the bridge to troubled water because I wrote the bridge to so many of her songs. She tells me the story, so I more or less wrote the third verse."

Lambert says she "wasn't sure honestly that 'Charlie' was right until I heard it on the radio. It's not like anything else on the record. It's upbeat, and it has a story. The first time I heard it on the radio, I thought, 'wow that really sounds good'. I feel confident singing it, and I can sing it for the next 20 years. That's one thing you think about."

Lambert also wrote the sad "Greyhound Bound for Nowhere" with her father. The ballad tells the story of a woman on a bus thinking about her lover and his girlfriend.

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