Miranda Lambert

Dec 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Blair Jackson

COUNTRY STAR BRINGS ROCK & ATTITUDE ON 'FOUR THE RECORD'

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MIranda Lambert

On Miranda Lambert’s new album, Four the Record, she continues to cultivate her image as a tough, defiant hellion—she rose to prominence in the country music world through songs such as “Kerosene,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Gunpowder and Lead” and “Time to Get a Gun.” On the new record’s propulsive “Fastest Girl in Town,” she sings: “You’ve got the bullets, I’ve got the gun/I’ve got a hankering for getting into something/I hit the bottle, you hit the gas/I heard your ’65 can really haul some ass.” There are a few other numbers that show some serious ’tude, as well.

But she is much more. The reigning CMA Female Vocalist of the Year also sings beautifully nuanced songs of longing, heartbreak, disappointment and simple joys. She’s a skilled storyteller who convincingly inhabits the characters in her songs, and a fine interpreter of others’ songs. And she isn’t just country: Her new album is all over the map stylistically—from rock ’n’ roll to delicate mountain-tinged balladry to smoky honky-tonk musings—though country is never very far away.

Credit for Lambert’s success must also go to her principal producer on her albums since the 2005 Kerosene, Frank Liddell, and the stellar cast of musicians he’s brought in to surround her. Four the Record, which Liddell co-produced with engineer/mixer Chuck Ainlay and bassist Glenn Worf, sounds like a natural evolution from the smash 2009 Revolution album (named CMA’s Album of the Year), yet it definitely moves into new territory and takes some impressive musical risks.

The album was tracked to Nuendo using the SSL 9000J console in the main room at Sound Stage Studios, a Nashville institution that was purchased in the fall of 2010 by Black River Entertainment and extensively renovated by Ainlay and Warren Rhodes. (Ainlay had his own room there, BackStage, until the sale; he still uses the studio.) In fact, work on the main studio (FrontStage) was still going on when the Lambert sessions began. “They were literally painting and screwing screws the night before we started, and it was chaotic getting set up,” Ainlay remembers. “But the studio is a large part of the record. We had torn out all the [acoustic] treatment in the studio and the snare drum sounded amazing in there! I stole an idea from Mark Knopfler’s studio in England and Warren worked it out on CAD. We found a guy in Kansas City who could build these aluminum panels that are like airplane wings. Underneath the panel is absorption material and they’re on motors so if you open them all the way up it deadens the room, or you can close them and the room gets ridiculously live, or you can put them at angles and splash the spill out into the room.”

Indeed, Matt Chamberlain’s drums sounded so good in the room that on a couple of songs Ainlay went primarily with the stereo drum sound from the Coles room mics rather than the fully miked kit (or in one case, doubled the drums with the room mics only). Chamberlain was the only player in the core tracking band who was new to working with Lambert; the others—guitarists Richard Bennett, Jay Joyce and Randy Scruggs; and bassist Glenn Worf—had been on previous records. This was also Ainlay’s first time working with Lambert, though he would also work with her on the debut album by Lambert’s chart-topping side group with Ashley Monroe and Angelina Presley, Pistol Annies.






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