But that was then, and now the Texas native who first gained acclaim for being a finalist on Nashville Star in its first year will see if her brand of honky tonkers and aggressive country can take off again with the release of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend."
"It's kind of split down the middle," says Lambert about the pressures she feels in round two during a telephone interview from Jacksonville, Fla. while on a concert tour a few weeks before the CD drops. "I feel pressure because 'Kerosene' was successful, and now I have expectations to live up to, but on the other side of that, I'm also comfortable in the fact 'Kerosene' went platinum. So, that means a million people are liking what I'm doing, so that gives (me) a little more faith in this record."
A few aspects of "Crazy" are similar to "Kerosene." The sound is not all that different with Lambert's strong, vibrant, take no prisoners voice dominating.
"I was just trying to still do everything that I did on 'Kerosene.' I used the same producers (Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke) and the same musicians. I mean I did keep everything the same. Why change it if it works?" says Lambert. "I don't feel pressure about necessarily the music, but about people's expectations about the record."
Lambert, 23, also says she was ready to push new music. "I'm a little nervous, but I'm also so excited because I've been singing the songs off 'Kerosene' for three years now, and I'm ready to move on from that and get my new music out there. I've grown a lot as an artist in the last couple of years, and I want to show that."
Lambert wrote 8 of the 11 songs on the disc, including 4 with Travis Howard and 1 with Heather Little, both of whom she wrote with on "Kerosene." Lambert also picked three songs from ace singers and songwriters - "Dry Town" by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, "Getting Ready" by Patty Griffin and the closing "Easy From Now On" by Carlene Carter and Susanna Clark," a song cut by Emmylou Harris.
On her debut, Lambert wrote all but one song, unusual for a new artist.
"As far as writing goes, I feel I've really lived a lot more in the last few years. When I was writing 'Kerosene,' I was 17, and I didn't have that much to write about obviously. I've been through relationships both professionally and personally. I make good decisions and bad ones and learn from both. I think you can hear that in my voice and in my writing."
Wrucke says, "She's pretty involved in her music. She's not someone who you find a bunch of songs, and she sings them. A huge part of her artistry (is) writing."
"She's got a direction," he says. "She's not holding back - she goes for it. She's not scared, and that's pretty rare."
Lambert opts for story songs in the first four cuts: "Gunpowder & Lead," "Dry Town," the first single "Famous in a Small Town" and the title track.
Drinking and loving are ever part of the songs, and it isn't always so pretty as tends to be the case in many country songs nowadays.
"I didn't plan on writing any specific songs for this record at all. I just wrote what I felt. There are story songs. I have more story songs than I did on "Kerosene,' and that comes from life's experience."
"Gunpowder & Lead" is written from the perspective of a woman waiting for her man to get out of jail and giving it to him.
Lambert penned the song with Little, a fellow resident of Lindale, Texas, who actually lives in a house once home to Lambert. The two wrote "Me and Charlie Talking" on "Kerosene." "I went over to her house. She kind of had the first part written. We really couldn't decide what to call the song. We had 'I'm going to show you what a little girls made of,' but we didn't really have that punch line. I was in (a concealed handgun) class, and I actually wrote the rest of the song...in my concealed handgun class, which sounds like I made it up...It's kind of funny how that came about."
"Famous" is about living the small town life where everyone knows your business, while the title track makes it clear it's not about some fly on the wall chick.
Lambert was born in Longview, Texas, but moved to Lindale, a town about 80 miles east of Dallas when she was 6.
"I would describe it exactly as the song," Lambert says of Lindale, population 3,000. "Everything that happens in that song is true. If they want to understand small town life, they can just pick up my record and listen to 'Famous in a Small Town.'"
"I would not trade it for the world. Growing up in a small town is really cool now, especially with what I'm doing. When I come, they're really proud of me. They have my posters in the stores. The whole town supports me, but they still treat me as Miranda from first grade."