Miranda Lambert's forthcoming new album, Wildcard, finds the singer returning to the fiery, rock-tinged roots of her earlier releases, but the project marks a departure in one major respect: It's her first album not produced by longtime collaborator Frank Liddell. Instead, Lambert worked with producer Jay Joyce on the record.

It wasn't an easy decision for Lambert to step away from working with Liddell; after all, he's produced all of her albums to date, and his expertise helped usher her through every one of her musical stages. The two were -- and still are -- very close.

"I adore, love and trust [him] so much," Lambert said during an industry-only preview performance of some of the songs from Wildcard. "He's one of my best friends in the world. But, like any long relationship, sometimes you reach a place where you need to regroup."

Lambert and Liddell made the decision to part ways, at least for now, during an intimate discussion at the singer's home. "Me and him had a bottle of wine on the magic porch. The magic porch does some magic s--t!" Lambert says with a laugh. "We just talked it out. We thought, 'You know what? Maybe we should take a minute from each other, and go get inspired somewhere else, and then come back and revisit.'

"He gave me his blessing, anyway, which I needed. Because that's what long-term relationships [need]," she adds.

When she approached Joyce about working together, the singer knew she wanted to get back to the enthusiasm and energy she'd felt in her early days in country music. "I just kind of wanted to be open and pushed. And Jay was the man to do that," she explains. "In a way, I feel like I invented a new rock 'n' roll sound for myself, but also in a way I've revisited the rock 'n' roll sound that was invented in the first place."

Lambert has said that songs like "Locomotive" and "Mess With My Head" take cues from a grungier, more rock-influenced style that she discovered while living in New York with her husband, Brendan McLoughlin. However, when she began listening back to the new material, she realized that those leanings might not be quite as uncharted for her as she'd previously imagined.

"My husband was actually listening to 'Mess With My Head,' because he's supportive, and  he wants us to make however many cents we make these days when we get a stream," she jokes. "Anyway, he's cleaning the car, and right after ['Mess With My Head'] came on, 'Kerosene' came on.

"And I'm like, 'This isn't a departure at all!" she quips. "I'm just back, b--ches!"

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