NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - Miranda Lambert's confidence is soaring since she won a Grammy award last year and got married this spring to country star Blake Shelton.
For her new album, "Four the Record," which hit stores on Tuesday, Lambert took some chances, choosing songs that differ from the hits "The House That Built Me," "White Liar" and "Only Prettier" from her third effort, "Revolution."
"There was no possible way I could remake 'Revolution,' which did such amazing things for my career," she said, including a Grammy for best female country performance with "The House That Built Me."
"I feel like I have grown as an artist because I didn't go into the studio with a theme in mind. All I thought about was 'may the best songs win.' I just wanted to have fun making this album, and I did," Lambert told Reuters.
Lambert, 27, who married the 35-year-old Shelton in May, has often pushed musical boundaries with thought-provoking hits such as "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," "Famous in a Small Town" and "Gunpowder and Lead."
But the Texas-born singer-songwriter hesitated to record "Fine Tune," a song written by Luke Laird and Natalie Hemby.
"I've had that song for seven years and finally I got the courage to record it after passing on it the last two albums," Lambert said. "I wanted it to sound kind of grungy and dirty, but still cute and fun."
Lambert writes many of her own tunes, so it takes something special for her to record someone else's compositions.
"If when I hear it I go, 'Why didn't I think of that?' then I know it's something I need to pay attention to," she said.
One such tune, "Mama's Broken Heart," penned by Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, almost got away.
"I had to beg for that song, because Kacey got signed to a record deal and it was going to be one of her first songs," Lambert said. Musgraves granted her wish.
The new album includes the song "Safe," that Lambert said was inspired by her relationship with Shelton.
"I don't know the first time I felt that way," Lambert said of the song's title. "Maybe it was the day I wrote it, by myself, while Blake was onstage performing.
"I had gone out to meet him at one of his shows and I was watching him from the side of the stage. I went to the bus for a minute, and I had on these fringy boots, and as I was walking the fringe was kind of swaying to his music. I could hear his voice in the background, and it sparked this feeling in me, and I went on the bus and wrote the song."
Lambert and Shelton co-wrote the tune "Over You," about the death of his brother in a car accident.
"He shared that story with me and what it was like after his brother passed. It was a very intimate thing for us; it was like another step in our relationship," Lambert said.
The couple recorded a duet, "Better in the Long Run," following in the footsteps of other famous country couples like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, or George Jones and Tammy Wynette.
"It kind of feels like it's time to move in that direction professionally," Lambert said, adding that the tune is not the love song that people might expect from newlyweds.
Recording together was one of the few times the couple has been together since getting married.
"It's tough, but we are used to it. That's been our life since we've been together," Lambert said. "I think we are definitely both kind of ready to slow down and be married. This is what we both love and the good thing about it is we understand each other's life because we have the same one."
When they get the opportunity, the couple enjoys quiet moments at their home in Oklahoma.
"Our favorite thing to do is sit on the porch listening to music like (the late country singer) Gary Stewart. That's what will be there when this (career) is over," Lambert said.
Lambert will be in Nashville for the Country Music Association's awards on November 9, for which she is nominated for female vocalist of the year and musical event of the year with Loretta Lynn and Sheryl Crow. But she will be ecstatic to watch Shelton, who is nominated for seven awards.
"I'm so thrilled to be nominated but I feel like I want to sit back and watch Blake take in the glory that is so long overdue. I'm excited to be his wife and be there to be supportive," she said.
Lambert is scheduled to perform three shows with her group Pistol Annies in December, then kicks off her 2012 tour on January 12 with Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann.
Editing by Andrew Stern and Bob Tourtellotte