Saturday, August 27, 2011

Album Review: The Pistol Annies - Hell on Heels

The Pistol Annies are new on the scene, though the individuals have been around in various country music roles for years.  The “Supergroup” formed by Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley made their debut at the “CMA Ladies Night Out” this year and have now released their debut album “Hell On Heels”. 
Hell On Heels – The title track is the same attitude you would expect from a group fronted by Lambert, but in a completely different style.   The girls take turns singing about the various things they have taken from guys, from cars to houses to credit cards.  “I’m hell on heels/ Say what you will/ I done made the devil a deal/ He made me pretty/ He made me smart/ I’m gonna break me a million hearts/ I’m hell on heels/ Baby, I’m comin’ for you” the trio start out.  The girls definitely ready to destroy some guys, but instead of the rocking music, they change it up and set a slow, almost bluegrass type tune to it (actually, the tune reminds me of Godsmack’s “Voodoo”).  What results is a very seductive sounding sound that is unique and well done and a great introduction to the group.

Lemon Drop – A well written song about getting through the rough points in life knowing that, eventually, life gets better.  Whether it is their car, their clothes,  the house, or their careers, they know they have to rough it, but you get the impression that they will appreciate it when things change.  The lyrics are embodied in the metaphor of a lemon drop “My life is like a lemon drop/ I’m sucking on the bitter/ To get to the sweet part/ I know there are better days ahead”. 

Beige – While the whole album is slower than what we would expect, the Annie’s slow it down more as they tell about the less than perfect wedding they had.  More than four months pregnant, marrying “some boy”, everyone is judging the bride and not having fun at the reception, and no honeymoon.  The title refers to the color of the bride’s dress: “Now everyone in this place/ Knows I didn’t wait/ ‘Cause I was wearin’ beige”.  The slow cadence of the waltz makes this track less than a standout, but the tone of regret in the singers’ voices, as well as the vivid description of the scene, save the song.

Bad Example – A little more what you would expect from these girls, “Bad Example” tells about how you cannot know what the good path is, unless someone sets the wrong one, and these girls are that “someone”: “Somebody had to set the bad example/ Teach all the prim and propers what not to do/ Nobody ‘round here wants to ramble/ What the hell? That’s what I was born to do”.  My guess is that after “Hell On Heels” this will be a single very soon.

Housewife’s Prayer – When backed against the ropes, the mind goes to extreme’s, and that is what is happening to these girls here.  “I’ve been thinking about/ Settin’ the house on fire/ Can’t see a way out of the mess I’m in and the bills are getting’ higher”.  Times are tough for the singer and her family, and she is about to lose it.  The song is great for the times, as I am sure everyone has been at the point where they feel like they have nothing left to lose, and people of both gender’s will likely relate to the song.

Takin’ Pills – In contrast to the previous song, the girls are still down on their luck, but this one is not as relateable.  It tells about the difficulties of being on the road, trying to make it as a band.  “We owe 400 dollars to the boys in the band/ Gas light’s blinkin’ on a broke down van/ Living on truck stop burgers and fries/ Crossin’ our fingers for a “Vacancy” sign/ Who the hell’s gonna pay these bills?/ One’s drinkin’, one’s smokin’, one’s takin’ pills”.  The song is a little unbelievable coming from these three, especially to hear Miranda sing about the struggles of being a startup this late in her career, but the song is catchy enough to keep it from being a dud.

Boys From The South – Whether Texas, Florida, Carolina, or Tennessee, these girls love their country boys and they take us on a tour of the south, describing what the boys in each state might be doing right now.  Each verse ends with “There’s something about a boy from The South” before talking about the boys they interacted with when they were younger.

The Hunter’s Wife – The funny thing about this band is the songs you would expect to be fast end up being slow and vice-versa.  One cannot help but thinking that this song was written by Miranda, with her new husband Blake in mind.  Blake is an avid hunter, so it would make sense.  “And if I’s a bettin’ woman/ I’d lay my money down/ I’d bet he spends more time in them woods then he spends in this house/ I got myself a problem I can’t figure no way out/ It’s like I’m married to a shotgun carryin’ tobacco chewin’ no good blue tick hound”.  It is a very upbeat song for the topic and I often find my toe tapping to the beat.

Trailer for Rent – One would think that the boys would learn from screwing girls over, especially these girls.  They are out to even the score, so they head down to the paper to place a four-line ad in the classifieds: “Trailer for rent/ No down payment/ Comes with some holes and dents where I got tired of his shit/ Call if your interested”.  The song has some very obvious old-style country tones to it that really make it an appealing song, even at a slow speed.

Family Feud – The trio close out the album in the wake of mama’s funeral.  The family is fighting over the goods that she left behind, since daddy is already gone.  The singer looks on in dismay at the scene, thinking about what mama and daddy would do if they were witnessing the scene, saying “She’s only been in the ground a day or two/ I’m glad mama ain’t around to watch this family feud”.  Each girl takes a round describing what they see and end with “What the good Lord giveth/ The family taketh away”. 

Overall, the Pistol Annies’ debut album is a great effort from three amazing voices.  My only serious complaint is the length of the album.  Clocking in at 30 minutes, the album leaves us wanting so much more from the promising trio.  I already look forward to seeing if they can build upon the solid premiere.  9/10

Also a reminder, looking for people interested in joining me for the group listening party for Brantley Gilbert's forthcoming album.  Details are in my previous post.

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