"His fist is big but my gun is bigger/ he'll find out when I pull the trigger/ I'm goin' home, gonna load my shotgun/ wait by the door and light a cigarette." Gunpowder And Lead - Miranda Lambert-Heather Little

Her songwriting and guitar-picking dad Rick was also a gun toting undercover Dallas narcotics cop until he took on an equally challenging career as a private detective.

So it's not surprising Miranda Lambert kicked off her second album with a song about domestic violence where her heroine deals summary justice to a villain at the barrel of a gun.

Gunpowder And Lead is not as dramatic as Gretchen Peters penned Martina McBride hit Independence Day where the victim burns the house down.

Or even the title track of Lambert's platinum selling debut disc Kerosene in which she torches a cheating lover's home.

But this aggressor, seeking to continue his reign of violence in gravel spreading rages, meets his Waterloo in true Wild West style.

Yes, it's a vibrant, videogenic narrative that's another creative catalyst for the blonde bombshell's chart reign that erupted with million selling 2005 debut disc Kerosene.

Lambert has let her assertive songs do the talking since landing her major deal with Columbia after finishing third to Buddy Jewell in reality TV show Nashville Star in 2004.

She also drew attention to her turbo tonking twang by smashing her guitar on stage at the 2006 CMA Awards.

That's unlikely to be reprised on May 15 when she performs on the 42nd Academy of Country Music Awards on the CBS network.

She is nominated for top new female vocalist but also top female vocalist along with Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood and Faith Hill.

It's a far cry from Lambert's birthplace - Longview - also hometown of fellow Texan twang buster Sunny Sweeney.

The Lamberts moved to Lindale - 80 miles east of Dallas - just before Miranda started primary school.

Unlike the patriarch's previous life where disguise was a not so secret success recipe, the family landmark in the tiny Texas town of 2,500 is well lit.

You can't miss the shrine - the Miranda Lambert Store & Headquarters.

The merchandising mecca, a former barbershop built in the late 1920s, is a tourist trap and cash flow conduit operated by mother Bev.


Visitors, alerted by billboards on nearby 1 20, won't need a map - maybe a keen ear to hear the grey cowbell autographed by Merle Haggard.

An iPpod, plugged into a PA system, is filled with Haggard classics and other country tunes.

"When a Merle Haggard song comes on, we ring the Merle bell," Lambert says, "and whoever is in the store gets a prize."

It's light years from Rick Lambert's netherworld of stakeouts to catch speed and ice dealers and their labs, and more recently, cheating spouses and fraudsters.

Although this store might be fantasy and fame filled, the line between art and reality was bridged long ago.

But Lambert, who once fronted a group called Contraband in his narc era, taught his daughter and son Luke how to use guns as teens.

Ironically, Miranda wrote Gunpowder & Lead - first single off her second album - as she took a class in Lindale to get her concealed handgun license.

But, equally importantly, Rick also taught Miranda, now 23, how to play guitar at 17.

"I taught her 5 chords, and she wrote 10 songs,'" Lambert says of his daughter who penned 11 songs on her chart topping debut disc Kerosene and eight on second album
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

So Miranda now carries a guitar for songwriting and a pistol for protection.

And when she's not out on the lost highway she's also a hunter.

"Because we're gun owners and carry licenses her attitude didn't come from nothing," says mother Bev.

"We don't really confine ourselves. We can go anywhere, and people say nothing."


"Bright lights of a city shining up ahead/ my hearts analysing every word you said/
did you take me for a fool or did you really care? /I'm on a Greyhound bound for nowhere." - Greyhound Bound For Nowhere - Miranda Lambert-Rick Lambert

It was Greyhound Bound for Nowhere - a ballad she penned with her dad - that won Miranda acclaim on Nashville Star.

"I thought if I could make it through the original song night I could get a publishing deal out of it," Lambert recalled of her entree.

"I wanted a publishing deal. Luckily I got everything - a record deal and publishing deal. I was really happy with the whole experience."

The song tells of a woman on a bus thinking about her lover and his girlfriend.

"My dad was in the den one day playing the melody of the song. I said, 'that's pretty. What are you working on?'" Lambert revealed of the song that kick started a career that has seen her touring with expatriate Australasian superstar Keith Urban, George Strait and Toby Keith.

"I sang the first line "rain on the window makes me lonely" It took about three hours. It was a rainy night. It was real late at night. It was written line by line. I'd write a line, and he'd write
a line. He just had that pretty melody going. To me, it sounded like rain on a window."

Rick Lambert expanded "I had in mind a girl that we knew very well. She had a habit of dating married men. It was a dead end."

Music kicked in for Miranda as a pubescent when she sang Texan tunes such as Guy Clark's epic Desperados Waiting For A Train with her dad at his parties.

"That's how I got into singing," says Lambert who now has a special writing room in her own home adjacent to her parents digs on the family property set on 24 acres with two Labradors and a lake.

"My dad plays guitar and writes, and I'd always grown up with that."


Now I don't hate the one who left You can't hate someone whose dead/ he's out there holding on to someone, I'm holding up my smoking gun/ I'll find somewhere to lay my blame the day she changes her last name." - Kerosene - Miranda Lambert.

Her father's not so cryptically named outfit Contraband was the catalyst.

"We'd have parties with anywhere from 30 to 150 people," adds the pistol packing patriarch.
"We lived out in the country. We had a flatbed trailer and a bunch of pickers out here. As the evening wore on, she'd crawl up on my lap and fall asleep. I'd continue playing until the morning."

Although Miranda was raised on roots country of heroes Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker and Haggard it was another superstar who changed her life.

When she was 10, her father took her to see Garth Brooks in Dallas.

It inspired Lambert to enter a country talent contest, where she sang Holly Dunn hit Daddy's Hands with her dad backing her on guitar.

She began going to Nashville's Fan Fair festival annually at 13 and her dad bought her a guitar when she was 14.

"She just didn't seem interested," the private detective picker recalled.

"If a daddy tries to push, they're going to rebel at that stage." Lambert agreed.

"I didn't really have an interest in a music career," says Lambert.

"I did the teenage high school thing. I was in choir and all that, but when I was 16 I really got into that. I've loved music but didn't want to do it with my life necessarily. I listened to everything, mostly country. I grew up with that, and that's what I liked."


But in April, 2000, at the age of 16 she entered a Tru-Value Talent Search, won two rounds and started playing guitar just before turning 17.

She wrote her first song the very first day.

"It wasn't good," she says.

"From that point on, my family and I went to Nashville. Not to get a record deal. I'd been to Fan Fair a few times before, and I just wanted to go and hang out."

She cut an independent record for $2,000 in less than two days and played throughout Texas with her band, Texas Pride.

"It was going to be a demo thing," Rick Lambert recalled.

"Some DJ got a hold of it. They wanted the record, and we said we don't have a record. We put a record together."

Miranda landed two songs on the Texas music charts.

"It was a tough go because it was a boy's world," says Rick Lambert.

"She wrestled her way in at 17."

"For a short while, two weeks, she worked at a department store," he added for a grand sum of $120.

"She said, 'Dad, I can make more than this singing in one night. She was making $300, $500 a night. I said, 'no kidding'."

Lambert also was heavily involved in writing songs.

"Writing came very easily to me," she recalled.

"It took me awhile to get the art of it down. I was writing heavy, every single day - three songs a week. I was writing a lot. Basically after I started writing, I knew I was going to make it a career. I was going to make it happen however I had to. Luckily, Nashville Star came along."

Lambert came third to Buddy Jewell in the inaugural season of the show in 2004 and landed the deal that produced her million selling debut disc Kerosene in 2005.


"I gave it everything I had and everything I got was bad/ life ain't hard but it's too long living like some country song/ trade the truth in for a lie, cheating really ain't a crime/ I'm giving up on love cause love's given up on me." - Kerosene - Miranda Lambert.

Lambert stuck to her guns and artistic goals in the 12 months incubation period for her debut disc.

She demanded she be allowed to record her own songs rather than the producer driven product.
"When I went in to get signed, I already had songs," Lambert recently revealed.

"I know who I am as an artist. I'm good enough to where I feel I could put songs on an album on a major label. I said, 'If y'all are going to try to change that or make me cut these No. 1 singles or whatever they are, I'm not going to do it. It's wasting everyone's time. I'll just go back to Texas and playing in clubs.' "

Lambert also requested that her producer be Frank Liddell (second husband of fellow Texan singer Lee Ann Womack,) after she heard his work on yet another Texan Jack Ingram's album Electric and Chris Knight discs.

"That sounded like real music that was rootsy," Lambert said.

"They tried to throw other producers at me but I wouldn't have it because I knew it was a good fit with Frank."

Lambert's debut at #1 with Kerosene made her only the sixth country artist to do so.

The others include Wynonna, LeAnn Rimes, Gretchen Wilson, Carrie Underwood and Jewell.

And that was despite minimal radio support.

Her highest-charting single by far was the title cut, and it failed to make the Top 10 on Billboard's country music singles chart.

Her second album title track Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, stalled at #50 so her label pulled it.

"It was a little controversial, a little too much for my first single off my new record," Lambert lamented.

"I don't know why, really. I don't see any problem with it. But right out of the gate might have been a little too much. I'm hoping we'll release it at a later time."

But latest single, Famous In A Small Town - a folksy tale penned on a trip home - is now climbing the charts.

So she resents suggestions that TV was a short cut to stardom.

"I was working in honky-tonks and clubs with a house band at 16," Lambert says.

"I did my share of shows for nothing but gas money to get me by. So, people who say that I haven't paid my dues don't know what they're talking about. It was hard work, and not a TV show that did it for me."


"Charlie always said he'd like to leave here, so he turned eighteen and he left our sleepy town/ letters came and went and I kept waiting for Charlie to come back and bring the life he'd found/ funny how time and distance change you the road you take don't always lead you home/ You can start a love with good intentions and then you look up and it's gone."
- Me And Charlie Talking - Miranda Lambert-Rick Lambert- Heather Little.

Lambert wrote or co-wrote all 11 songs on Kerosene including the title track penned on a Texas road trip.

"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," Lambert recalled.

"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."

But the first single was Me And Charlie Talking - a tune written with her father and now next-door neighbour, Heather Little, is about a girlhood friend growing up.

"It was a true story of a kid that Little remembered from childhood," Rick Lambert recalled.

"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 drove a Ford F350 crew cab when she opened in her home state for local legends including Ingram, Kevin Fowler, Pat Green and Charlie Robison.

But after Kerosene ignited charts she then toured nationally, first with Urban, then Strait, Keith and others.


"You say you're livin' on the edge and I think you're hangin' from a ledge/ too scared to hold the hand that wants to help you up/ are you the man you thought you'd be by the time that you turned 33/ are you still a bullet in your daddy's gun/ don't forget boy you're your mama's only son/ she's at home and she's been praying for you/ hey what about Georgia."
- What About Georgia - Miranda Lambert.

Lambert credits Urban, who took her on the road in 2005, with building her career and her confidence.

Urban is making a triumphant Australian tour in May to promote huge selling sixth album Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing (Capitol-EMI) that was launched with six bonus video clips.

Ironically, Urban has scored token airplay on Australian corporate commercial radio chains after they accepted tour sponsorship advertising.

But Lambert, yet to leap the Aussie radio moat, recalled the embryo of a stage duet with Urban in her diary that was published online during the tour.

But she will score exposure for her video clips during Series #8 of Nu Country TV during winter.

"Yesterday morning, we woke up in Grand Forks," Lambert wrote.

"I went and worked out, and when I was walking back on my bus, Keith jumped off his and asked me to come aboard. He had a guitar sitting in the front lounge, and he asked me to sit down and play. He told me he'd been listening to my record the night before and said I was "a really great writer." He asked me if I would consider singing a duet with him during his show later that night. Umm YES! We tossed around a couple ideas and finally settled on who else a Merle Haggard song, Silver Wings.

I kind of wanted to practice, but Keith said he wanted the duet to have an impromptu feel to it. We ran over it once at sound check to make sure everything worked. I did my set, ran backstage for a minute and then walked out to watch the first half of Keith's. When Keith walked on stage, I looked up, and he was wearing one of my black Kerosene T-shirts! Then I noticed that Jerry (bass player) and Chris (guitar player) were wearing them, as well! Then, I started looking around and realized that everyone in Keith's band and crew were wearing my black Kerosene T-shirts! It was the coolest thing ever!

Before I knew it, it was time for me to sing. The crowd erupted when Keith brought me up. I was really nervous, and I hardly ever get nervous. I started the song, and Keith sang harmony and played lead guitar. There were about 8,000 people watching, and Keith and I were the only two on stage. I think you could have heard a pin drop. The song went so well, and it all happened so fast."


"It took me five hours, some thirty licence plates/ I saw her Mustang and my eyes filled up with rage/ I bought my pistol but I ain't some kind of fool/ so I walked in bar handed/ she was on his arm while he was playing pool." - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Miranda Lambert-Travis Howard.

Lambert also revealed the songs on Kerosene contrasted with her recent material.

"Most of them are not even about happy love, they're about 'I hate you, get out of my face,'" said Lambert.

"I have a hard time writing love songs because the sappy songs, that's like the first week of a relationship and then it's over. It's like, come on, get real - that's like so not what it's about. Love is hard."

Now, with her new album scoring international release, she reflects maturity in her music.
"I feel like I've grown up," Lambert confessed.

"I've been on the road for two years. I've been in relationships. There's a lot more personality in my writing now because I've actually lived through a lot more things.

In three years that doesn't seem like that long a time, but with everything that's happened in my life, having an album out, going on tour. I think it's really changed me as a person and as a writer. I'm 23 years old, and I go through the things that a regular 23-year-old girl goes through. I don't want people to look at me and think 'Oh my God, she's scary. She's the crazy ex-girlfriend.'"

On the title cut - one of four songs penned with Travis Howard - she chooses a bar to take revenge on her former lover's new belle of the pool hall.

She wrote it while touring with Strait when she was angry with her boyfriend.


"What became of all the boys who only want one thing/ someone tell me what I'm doing wrong/ cause the good ones all got wedding rings/ and the young ones are just too dumb."
- Guilty In Here - Miranda Lambert-Travis Howard

Lambert proves relationship troubles, fuelled by life on the road, helped source her new songs.

"It definitely shows growth for me as a songwriter and a singer," she said.

She exhibits mixed emotions about finding lovers too good to be true on Guilty In Here.

And in Down - also penned with Howard - finds her comparing a "strong man in Jackson Hole/ he took my heart and he broke my soul" with another paramour.

She reaches into her harem - "met a little boy in Baton Rouge/ his eyes were clear and his heart was true/ I made that boy's heart scream my name/ but he didn't know the game."

Lambert also delves into regret in assertive More Like Her and reveals her fragility on organic ballads Desperation and Love Letters.

And she's credible when she revives latter day Texan Patty Griffin's riveting Getting Ready and oft-recorded Carlene Carter-Susanna Clark tune Easy From Now On.

"We didn't change anything - same co-writers, same producers," Lambert added.

'But I definitely think it's a step up from Kerosene."

Long time Griffin supporter Buddy Miller harmonises with co-producer Mike Wrucke who adds his banjo to a disc featuring Randy Scruggs on mandolin, Russ Pahl on steel and fiddler Hank Singer.

Scruggs and Wrucke also join the guitar assault with Jay Joyce, Richard Bennett and Waddy Wachtel, augmented by bassist Glenn Worf and drummer Chad Cromwell.

Lambert's ramped up version of David Rawlings-Gillian Welch tune Dry Town is far more energised than the original.

The tune - a vibrant vignette about breaking down in a new millenium prohibition pit stop where the sole mechanic has gone fishing - is a sibling song of sorts of Lambert's new single.


"I dreamed of going to Nashville/ put my money down and placed my bet/ but I just got the first buck of the season/ I made the front page of the Turnertown Gazette."
- Famous In A Small Town - Miranda Lambert-Travis Howard.

Lambert aimed her Cowboy Peyton Place like homily Famous In A Small Town at the voracious radio casino.

The message - fame and infamy are equally memorable beyond the big city shadows - has a reality rooted sting in the tail.

And she's keen to return to her roots to ensure its radio success by visiting stations.

"Hey, I did it before and I'll do it again," Lambert said.

"I'll march my happy butt right into the station and tell them to play my music, because it worked when I was 17."

Although Lambert was more than $500,000 in debt because of record company and publishing advances when she released Kerosene she remembered her family when she went from red to black.

One of the first things she did after Kerosene struck gold was to pay for the college education of her brother, Luke.

"It's a big deal to me to take care of my family because they are the ones who took care of me and made my success possible," Lambert confessed.

"People dream of careers like the one I am having. I feel so very fortunate and blessed. You can't take it for granted because it could be gone in an instant."

Unlike many pop prima donnas and rappers, whose overnight success turns them into shooting stars, she appreciates media support.

"There is no bad publicity," she says.

"Talk about me any way you want to. If you hate me, tell people. Just say my name."

She wants to carve out a career as a serious country singer-songwriter.


Although Lambert has no qualms about shooting for mainstream fame and fortune she also believes she can maintain her cool status.

She wants to be like her musical heroes diverse as Willie Nelson, Steve Earle and Merle Haggard.

"There's a way to be cool, and there's a way to make records that are hits and stay mainstream," Lambert says.

"I think Dwight Yoakam did that, and I think the Dixie Chicks did that. I want to be one of those people. I want to be me, but I also want a lifelong career."

Well, not many chanteuses can inject their songs with the flip side of cheating torn from her parents' investigative strolls on the dark side of life in their daily working lives.

Yes, tales of cheating and deceit were served with the evening meal in the Lambert lair.

"To me, it was just mom and dad's job. But seeing that harsh reality of real life early on started coming out when I was writing," Lambert said.

It's unlikely that Vince Gill, son of a judge, and Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt -two of many singing offspring of lawyers - were served transcripts with their turnips.

They certainly didn't duel with the White House.

The Lamberts were burned by the bureaucratic blowtorch when a damaged damsel in distress Paula Jones hired them for her sexual discrimination lawsuit against former President Bill Clinton.

They worked on it for two years, and it left a big impression on Lambert and brother Luke.

"Mom and dad would leave the house and say, 'these men in black might come to the door, and they'll want our files. Just let them in, and you go to your room and lock the door,'" she recalled.

That's country - East Texas style.

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