From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman. To read my column on the Pistol Annies, including interviews with Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley, click here.
Pistol Annies “Hell on Heels” (Columbia Nashville)
From the smoldering title track, the Pistol Annies makes themselves clear: They’re pretty, they’re smart, and they’re going to say and do whatever they want. And they’re coming for you.
Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert, Tennessee native Ashley Monroe and eastern Kentuckian Angaleena Presley may share cute matching nicknames and favor snazzy matching outfits, but the formidable trio of singer-songwriters quickly blasts away any notion that they are a typical girl group.
Clocking in at a lean half-hour, their debut album delivers on the promise of their partnership: It’s sharply penned, impeccably sung, unapologetically raw and often brutally honest. And the title track, a saga of three merciless man eaters on the prowl that opens the album, truly is just the beginning.
A blazing girl-power powder-keg, “Hell on Heels” channels the classic country of Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette with an uninhibited modern sensibility. The 10 tracks strike much deeper than the sassy kiss-offs and power ballads that female singers typically belt out in the pop-infused contemporary country era.
“Housewife’s Prayer” crackles with escalating desperation, “Trailer for Rent” builds slowly and then explodes with woman-scorned fury, and “Family Feud” scathingly rebukes greedy relatives who can’t even wait for the reading of mama’s will before they start plundering her keepsakes.
As with Lambert’s solo work, the sound and fury immediately captures the ear, but the Annies aren’t just angry. They’re cheerfully behaving badly on “Takin’ Pills” and “Bad Example,” and they’re fervently hoping for better days on “Lemon Drop.” They take dead-eye aim on the musical trend of country boys proving how country they are with the uproarious toe-tapper “The Hunter’s Wife,” then turn around and pay affectionate tribute to “Boys from the South.”
But the Annies are at their strongest with their most vulnerable song: “Beige,” a melancholy, true-to-life ode about a shotgun wedding.