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Miranda Lambert vents, transforms heartache in the studio and on the road

Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

It will come as no great surprise to followers of Miranda Lambert's career which song the firebrand Texas singer-songwriter requested to sing in a multi-artist salute to Elton John, which was shot last week at New York's Theater at Madison Square Garden and is set to air later this year on CBS-TV.

Lambert, forthright and a lover of the American South, opted not for one of the "Rocket Man" singer's signature hits, but a deep cut from the album John cites as his personal favorite, a choice he shares with Lambert.

The woman known for blazing songs such as "Gunpowder and Lead" and who moonlights with singer-songwriters Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe in the band Pistol Annies zeroed in on John's song "My Father's Gun," from his 1971 album "Tumbleweed Connection." The cut, as were most on that album, is set during the Civil War; it takes the viewpoint of a son of the South who inherits his father's legacy and must figure out his own place in a troubled world.

She said she tapped her connection into John's camp by way of her longtime producer, Frank Liddell, who is friends with John's songwriting partner of 50 years, Bernie Taupin.

"As soon as word about this came up, I texted him and said, 'A lot of people will probably want to do this one, but I want to be the first to ask,'" Lambert said as her tour bus was pulling into the parking lot of the Spokane Arena in Washington, several days ahead of her arrival Saturday for her L.A.-area date at the Forum in Inglewood.

"It's such a great record, and they have such a love for the American South," said Lambert, 34. The show, "Elton John: I'm Still Standing -- a Grammy Salute" is scheduled to air this spring.

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"It was incredible. I got to meet Elton and drink martinis with Bernie, one of the greatest songwriting teams of all time. It's such a cool experience when you meet people that are nice and normal and so iconic -- it's so inspiring."

Lambert herself has been on a roll of inspiration in the last few years, most readily evident in the creative outpouring displayed on her latest work, 2016's "The Weight of These Wings," a double album comprising two dozen songs she wrote in the throes of the meltdown and aftermath of her marriage to country star Blake Shelton.

Said Lambert: "That record is such a journey for me. It was kind of scary at first putting it out, but people were great. I think just being able to say the truth and be able to move on is what we look for in music. Fans are commenting on that."

The vulnerability she exhibits in heartbreak songs such as "Tin Min" and "Things That Break" is disarming. The latter includes her admission that "I leave it all in ruins / Cause I don't know what I'm doing / I'm hard on things that matter / Hold a heart so tight it shatters / So I stay away from things that break."

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