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Gretchen Wilson

Country Crooner

WilsonOn her new album, Gretchen Wilson sings about being "on the stool side of the bar these days, buying everyone a round." Like much of the Epic album, "All Jacked Up," that lyric is an autobiographical glimpse into the meteoric career path of this toughie bartender turned country sweetheart who went from obscurity to superstardom in a matter of months.

The project comes 16 months after the release of her debut, "Here for the Party," which has sold 3.8 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. On it, Wilson duets with Merle Haggard (on "Politically Uncorrect") pays tribute to George Jones ("One Bud Wiser") takes a shot at Paris Hilton ("California Girls") and even covers a Billie Holiday classic on a hidden track ("Good Morning Heartache").

Wilson co-wrote seven of the album's 12 tracks and co-produced it with Big & Rich's John Rich and Sony Music Nashville executive VP of A&R Mark Wright. The artist agrees that she has found at least a comfort level if not a confidence in her role as co-producer. Having been through the process once, she felt more like she knew what she was doing this time around.

"When you make the first record there's a lot of little things you realize later on that you wish you'd caught, or that you'd went ahead and spoken up about or that you'd make a different decision [on]," she says. "Those little things come back to haunt you every time you [hear] that song on the radio or listen to the CD. On this record I felt like I was a lot more careful. I didn't hesitate at all. If something didn't feel right, I just immediately spoke up. I wanted it to be as perfect as it could and as natural and as much me as it could be."