Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert may be blond, and she did get her big break on a musical reality show (American Idol's twangier cousin Nashville Star), but otherwise she's completely out of sync with mainstream country's current parade of perfectly styled waifs who sound more like Mariah Carey than Tammy Wynette. Lambert's latest album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, has songs that make Carrie Underwood's vandalism-­celebrating smash "Before He Cheats" sound like child's play: "Gunpowder & Lead" finds her waiting at the door, loaded shotgun in hand, for an abusive partner, while "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" details her rampage (though she judiciously refrains from further gunplay) upon discovering a former lover and his new flame at the local pool hall. Lambert still lives in her East Texas hometown of Lindale and has enjoyed a modicum of chart success — her latest single, the slice-of-life "Famous in a Small Town," was No. 14 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs last week — but live is where she really shines, stoking the literal flames of 2005 breakthrough "Kerosene" with the flinty rocker energy of Lynyrd Skynyrd or John Mellencamp, while saving room for remorseful honky-tonk ballads like Ex-Girlfriend's "Guilty in Here."


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