Miranda Lambert refuses to get boxed in.

After her breakthrough success with the Grammy-winning "Revolution," a country careerist would have consolidated her "wild child with a heart of gold" persona with more of the same. Not Miss Miranda, er, Mrs. Blake Shelton.

On "Four the Record" (RCA), Lambert forges a whole new plan of attack, putting aside the rock leanings of "Revolution" for a more serious alt-country vibe. Though the single "Baggage Claim" may showcase some of that "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" sass, the bulk of "Four the Record" is far more experimental.

It boldly opens with what would more naturally seem like a closer, a big-tent folk embrace "All Kinds of Kinds" that tells tales of a cross-dressing congressman and a pharmacist who medicates her kids. Lambert follows that with "Fine Tune," an odd pop number that has the kind of phrasing expected from Feist or Regina Spektor and a decidedly non-country fuzzed-out effect on her vocals.

Her pick of alt-country chestnuts -- Gillian Welch's "Look at Miss Ohio" and Allison Moorer's "Oklahoma Sky" -- not only shows off Lambert's great taste, but her great voice as well. However, it's her simple love songs -- "Easy Living" and "Over You" -- where her voice is the most potent. It's where "Four the Record" declares Lambert a superstar.

MIRANDA LAMBERT

"Four the Record"

THE GRADE B+

BOTTOM LINE The "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" settles down, but shakes things up again

Top Stories

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME