At this stage in her continually-rising career, Miranda Lambert has discovered that just being herself from the get-go -- and not trying to exude some sort of contrived image -- has truly been her ticket to success.

"I guess I thought [in the beginning], I'll have this stage persona," Miranda tells Nashville's Tennessean newspaper . "But I'm into my third album now, and everything has been based on my true person. The problem with having a persona is, that you might get caught being yourself."

Miranda can be caught being totally herself in the lyrics she writes. Case in point: 'Maintain the Pain' from her latest album, 'Revolution,' which has the feisty singer putting a bullet in her radio.

"When I'm writing, I'm really honest," she says. "And I also live out fantasies through my lyrics. There was a moment that I was listening to a radio station, and it played the same song three times in an hour. I was like, 'Do I really have to hear this song again?'"

And no, Miranda didn't actually make the radio eat lead ... "But I wanted to," she says with a laugh. "Also, I thought that was a good first line. The first line of a song should catch your ear immediately, and make you think, 'What is this going to be about?'"

Knowing her latest album has caught the ear of one of the artists who inspired her has Miranda positively euphoric.

"The fact that Patty Loveless knows my music at all -- that made me really pumped," she says. "This is the first time I've made a record that I want my heroes to hear. This one ... I'd hand it to my heroes with no hesitation.

So what's Miranda's secret to making albums that resonate with listeners?

"There is no rule book," she insists. "I think this record is something that's going to put me in a different place in my career. I don't know exactly what that's going to be. Maybe it's moving up a level, or more into a respected, singer-songwriter thing. But -- bars or stadiums -- we'll be playing somewhere. It just feels like things are changing, though."

Miranda will kick off 2010 with Brad Paisley on his extended American Saturday Night tour.