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Miranda Lambert: A Rising Star At Her Best

Miranda Lambert is a 25-year-old, Texas-raised country-music star whose debut, released when she was just 20, hit No. 1 on the country charts. She's just released her third album, Revolution.

Let's get this out of the way quickly: Miranda Lambert has a thing about firearms, which is maybe understandable for a Texan raised by two private investigators. She had a Top 10 hit last year with "Gunpowder and Lead," a provocative song about a woman, an abusive man and a shotgun. And guns figure in two songs on her new record, although only one gets fired — into a car radio.

Now, I'm not a gun owner, but I know how she feels there. More seriously, I also understand "Time to Get a Gun," a song about feeling threatened and vulnerable — which is different from saying I agree with its logic.

Then there's "Airstream Song," about perpetual dissatisfaction and restlessness; I understand it, too. I love the matter-of-fact way she sings, "I'll always be unsatisfied" there, which is a fine example of how great country — besides twangy hooks and snappy wordplay — often shares confidences, like unguarded bar conversations. Lambert's latest batch of songs nearly all have that quality — even the simple love songs, or the potentially maudlin one about revisiting a former family house.

The songs on Revolution come in an impressive variety of arrangements and voices, from quiet, acoustic confessions to rock 'n' roll hollering. They're all convincing, and they make up not just Lambert's best record, but also my standing pick for country record of the year.

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