And they did: Lambert’s career took flight in 2009, when Revolution, her third album, was released. Interestingly, the breakthrough hit, “The House That Built Me,” was introspective rather than kick-ass. Lambert did not write the song, and it was initially pitched to Shelton. Lambert and Shelton were driving in his truck listening to demos for his upcoming album, and when she heard “The House That Built Me,” Lambert started to cry. Shelton said to her, “You have to record that song.” The lyrics tell the universal story of a lost soul trying to restore her emotional equilibrium by visiting her childhood home: “I thought if I could touch this place or feel it/This brokenness inside me might start healing,” Lambert sings.
Lambert performed the tune at the Grammys in 2011 and not only won the award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance but also announced her presence to the entire music industry. “Everybody in the audience was crying,” Lambert recalls. “When people heard ‘The House That Built Me,’ they said, ‘That’s not cheesy.’ There’s been a shift: Country music is popular music now. Every other genre wants to come over to our land.”
“I’m so sorry "’m late,” Lambert says as she walks into the “vibe room,” a kind of hippie enclave that Jordan Powell, her tour manager, constructs backstage at every venue. Large, vaguely Indian batik sheets hang from the ceiling, and lamps are draped with scarves. A jukebox in the corner is playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” and a bar is set up along one wall. Lambert is wearing jeans, a T-shirt with the word BEER written in different typefaces, and rubber rain boots in a leopard print. Her hair is piled up high on top of her head. She has a small silver gun on a chain around her neck, alluding to her other music project—Pistol Annies, a female trio—which will be touring this summer. Despite the revolvers-with-wings tattoo on her forearm, Lambert is warm and immediately engaging. “I’m sorry I look like such a wreck,” she says as she plops down on a worn leather couch. “We can’t talk in my bus because a mouse died in there, and it smells awful,” she says, laughing. “I have such a glamorous life.”
She has left Shelton at home on his farm, with a dog she rescued the day before. “I named the dog Batman,” Lambert says, showing me a picture on her phone of an adorable black and white Border Collie–ish mutt. “He was skittish when I saw him on the side of the road, so I lay down flat on the ground. And then he came over to me.” Batman is Lambert’s seventh rescue dog. He’s staying with his daddy tonight,” she explains. “We’ll see how that goes. Kind of scary.”