When: Sat., June 9, 5 p.m. 2012
Young country star Miranda Lambert has always had a thing for songs about getting even with men who've done her wrong—she called her second major-label record Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and on her fourth, last year's Four the Record (Columbia), she sounds as badass as ever singing "Mama's Broken Heart." But there's much more to Lambert than revenge—she's never had any use for the cliches and conventions of contemporary Nashville. Not only does she refuse to play the good girlfriend or obedient wife, but she also sings about the suffering of have-nots and outsiders—given that she was raised in a tiny town in east Texas, the empathy she displays for cross-dressers and pill poppers in "All Kinds of Kinds" is a pleasant surprise. Where her music is concerned, Lambert sticks closer to the Nashville template, making only subtle tweaks—touches of honky-tonk, a cover of "Look at Miss Ohio" by alt-country fixture Gillian Welch, even distorted vocal effects on "Fine Tune" (which also uses a corny but racy extended metaphor comparing car repairs to sexual awakening). She asserts herself more powerfully with the twists she throws into her lyrics, even on the mushiest songs: on "Dear Diamond," for instance, she promises her wedding ring that she won't reveal that she's already been unfaithful. During her set here Lambert will also perform with Pistol Annies, a side project with fellow songwriters Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. On last year's excellent Hell on Heels (Columbia) they combine sharp, defiant lyrics with various retro country styles, and the no-nonsense production is free of the usual Nashville fussiness. —Peter Margasak Brad Paisley headlines; Miranda Lambert (with Pistol Annies), Chris Young, the Band Perry, and Jerrod Niemann open.