Miranda Lambert Tells Us How ‘Wildcard’ Takes It Back to Her Roots
Miranda Lambert has long been a fixture in country music. From her emergence in the early aughts to her solidified status as contemporary country royalty, she is revered for her sassy southern twang, rock-tinged stylings and heartfelt ballads. Having released a long list of country favorites, from “Mama’s Broken Heart” to her most recent charting single, “It All Comes Out In the Wash,” written with Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna of the Love Junkies, Lambert has solidified herself as a leading lady of Nashville. Her seventh album, “Wildcard,” is a feisty, versatile record that finds her returning to the charged sounds of earlier work, while taking a panoramic shot of contemporary country in all its forms. It’s expressive, explosive, positive, and overall an undeniable bit of fun, packed in with a high dosage of Texas flair.
From the playfully cheeky verve of opening rocker “White Trash” to the cool consolation of dim-lit closer “Dark Bars,” “Wildcard” is the word that this album evokes, which should strike as no surprise to anyone familiar with Lambert’s output and overall aesthetic. There’s a recklessness integral to her sound and persona that makes “Wildcard” a particularly fitting title. Lambert recently spoke with Entertainment Voice to expand on the new album herself.
You’ve always stood out for your fiery verve, and your new album is fittingly titled “Wildcard.” What does this title mean to you, and how does it describe the album overall?
A wildcard is a Queen of Hearts to me and, in these last few years, I’ve learned I need to be the Queen of my own heart. I had a tattoo drawn up, and fast forward to when I was writing for the album, the line “when the house just keeps on winning, I’ve got a wildcard up my sleeve” came up in a writing session with Natalie Hemby and Luke Dick. I wanted a word or a lyric from the record in the title and “Wildcard” was fitting because now I do have a wildcard up my sleeve both physically and spiritually.
On “Wildcard,” you showcase an informed, comprehensive heritage of country signifiers, that spans into various Alternative country and rock avenues. How did all of these instincts end up meshing together?
Country is what I do and it is who I am, but I also love rock ’n’ roll. Going in with Jay Joyce was a new experience. I’ve worked with Jay, but I haven’t worked with him as a producer. He’s played on my records before and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to work with him. I wanted to go back to my roots of the “Kerosene” record, and part of that rock vibe and that edge that I had was Jay’s sounds. I needed that and I wanted that back.
On songs like “Way Too Pretty For Prison” and “Pretty Bitchin’” with Maren Morris, you’re really making an example for badass ladies in country music, as you’ve also done with the collaborative star power of Pistol Annies. How do you view the current state of country music for women?
I used to go to rodeos growing up and you’d see the flag girls riding out with their hair in the wind. They’d have their cowboy hats on and sequins and they’d hand a flag off to another girl. That’s what I picture this business being. Sometimes at the rodeos you’d see 20 girls holding flags, and what makes me happy is that there’s still room for all of us to sparkle for as long as we want to. My band Pistol Annies came out with us on the road this fall, and we also had Maren Morris, Elle King, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes and Caylee Hammack. There’s something crazy about being out there with these young artists that have this fire in their eyes. It reignites your own flame.
“Tequila Does” is a standout track that plays like an ode to classic honky tonk country songs. What are some specific inspirations that made their way into this song?
“Tequila Does” is stone cold country with a Texas flair. No matter how rock or edgy or scorned you can get, when you come back to a country song with a steel guitar, it makes my soul feel like it’s on fire. It’s just my roots. It’s what I loved most about the music that I grew up on, and that’s why I love making that kind of music. I wrote the song with Jon Randall and Jack Ingram… We wrote “Tin Man” together, too.
For you, how does “Wildcard” compare to past Miranda Lambert, in terms of sound, lyrics, style, and everything involved?
I came at this record with the same confidence, and focus that I came with for “Kerosene.” This record had that same energy and hopefulness, but with still a little of the gritty, scorned woman feel. I feel like I balanced it well on this record. “Wildcard” feels full-circle to me, back to the root of everything.
“Wildcard” is available Nov. 1 on Apple Music.