Are The Pistol Annies Country’s Newest Outlaws?

I don’t know whether or not I should call this band a supergroup- yet. For those of who who have not already heard the girls, you will soon. Comprised of Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley, all of these women will soon be household names. Miranda Lambert is already successful in her own right, having just scored her fifth solo number one hit. You may remember Ashley Monroe’s 2006 single ‘I Don’t Want To,’ featuring Ronnie Dunn, and her recent album Like A Rose, hit number 10 on the country chart. We have yet to hear any solo material from Presley, but I hope that in the future she releases a solo album, and this trio would certainly rise to supergroup status. After all, their debut album, Hell On Heels, was certified gold this week, news that was heard days after the release of their sophomore album, Annie Up.

Lambert is known for her feisty demeanour, being slightly rock and roll in our ever pop-lilting country world, and her clever, outlaw style lyrics. With the addition of Monroe’s bluegrass style vocals, and Presley’s powerful low timbre, the band is brimming with attitude, and certainly talent. All of the women in the group write, together and independently, each getting the chance to showcase their own particular style. The Pistol Annies don’t sound like many other bands in the country charts. They are much more raw and natural sounding, both lyrically, and production wise, than most other mainstream artists. You get the feeling that these ladies are playing the music that they want to, how they want to.

Musically, they are reminiscent of the 1970s outlaw movement, but they retain a modern edge. These girls are not afraid to speak their mind:

‘Comes with some holes and dents,
Where I got tired of his shit,
Call if you’re interested,
Trailer for rent.’

And although we have yet to see any more politically motivated songs as of yet, we have potentially heard hints of this in solo work from Lambert (Time To Get A Gun) and Monroe (Weed Instead of Roses). They don’t seem to shy away from social commentary either:

‘I got thrift store curtains in the windows of my home
I’m payin’ for a house that the landlord owns
Bought a TV on a credit card
It’ll take me ten years to pay if off
But some fine day I’ll be drinkin’ a beer
In a big backyard I own free and clear
All I know, there’s better days ahead’

But the outlaws were also focused on the style of their music, as Travis Tritt said, they ‘put some drive in your country.’ The girls are very definitely country, but they aren’t afraid to back up their attitude with instrumentation. The do occasionally use heavy electric guitars, lilting more towards rock that other mainstream country. But these women are as country as they come, and can handle mournful ballads equally as effectively as their upbeat tracks.

One of the ways they retain their country style is through their vocals. They remind me of Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton And Loretta Lynn’s collaboration, Honky Tonk Angels. The three part harmonies evoke memories of traditional country, whilst singing songs that are relevant to the modern audience. The girls share the spotlight, often taking turns to sing a verse each, joining together for the chorus. They work well as a band, there is chemistry between them, and the audience gets the impression that they enjoy and mean what they sing.

I have a feeling that The Pistol Annies will go down in country music history. The girls are making an impact in country, and people are paying attention. I think already, perhaps due to the success of these women, there are many more female songwriters in the charts than there were even just a year ago. And maybe, just maybe, we have a new outlaw movement on our hands.

Annie Up was released on May 7th, and is available here and on iTunes.

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