Album of the week : Annie Up - The Pistol Annies

Two years ago, the Pistol Annies woke up contemporary country music with a debut album of unusual consistency and economy. The songs on Hell on Heels were short, but spoke volumes about the problems of women coping with hard times. The characters in the Annies’ sharp, funny, all-too-real songs scrounged for quarters for the washing machine, lived in dented trailer parks, drove rusted old cars, and fought it out with relatives over meager inheritances. Its three-part harmonies recalled the Dixie Chicks; its wry observations of small-time life felt derived from John Prine

Times have changed, and so have the fortunes of the three Annies. Miranda ‘Lone Star Annie’ Lambert has, rightfully, been recognized as one of country music’s foremost figures - a songwriter, singer and bandleader with few peers inside or outside the Nashville city limits. Ashley ‘Hippie Annie’ Monroe has stepped out on her own with the acclaimed Like a Rose, an album that played as a gentler extension of the ideas on Hell on Heels. Less has been heard from Angaleena ‘Holler Annie’ Presley, whose tart tongue and barely suppressed fury gave ‘Hell’ so much of its fighting spirit

Now comes their second release, Annie Up, a more fully formed take on Southern sisterhood, that is going to sell a boatload of albums

The opening track, ‘I Feel a Sin Comin’ On’, is a bluesy sultry number. that starts out acapella, with finger snaps. “You can see it all over my face, sweet temptation all over the place, give me tall, dark and handsome, mix it up with something strong. I feel a sin comin’ on”. Fast and incredibly catchy, ‘Hush Hush’ is the album’s first single, and spells family Dysfunction with a capital D. “My brother got out of rehab, right around Christmas time. Mama made a turkey, Daddy was worried he was gonna have to break up a fight…”

‘Being Pretty Ain’t Pretty’ is a tongue-in-cheek ballad. “The red on my nails keeps chipping off, the pink on my lips just adds to the flaws, I ain’t good at fake lashes, anytime I wear high heels I fall.”, while ‘Unhappily Married’ is the stand-out track. It’s plucky, playful, and… startlingly real. “You better start workin’ some overtime, can’t buy heels on nickels and dimes. You’re goin’ bald, and I’m gettin’ fat. I hate your mom, and you hate my dad. Hey, hey, it’s alright, everybody fusses, everybody fights,With all of the baggage you and me carry, we’ll spend forever unhappily married”

‘Loved by a Workin’ Man’ is a mid-tempo ode to all the blue-collar, hard-workin’ guys out there who might not help out with the housework, or bring home roses, but who know how to treat a woman right, while ‘Blues, You’re a Buzzkill’  is a dark ode to depression, that can’t be abated by Jack Daniels or pain pills. “The way that you hurt, the way that you sting, the way that you bring me down to my knees. If whiskey can’t drown you, what the hell will? Hey blues, you’re a buzzkill.” Powerful stuff

Swinging,sassy, woman-to-woman advice follows in Don’t Talk About Him, Tina while Trading One Heartbreak for Another‘, one of the sadder songs on the album, effectively portrays the vicious cycle of destructive relationships that some women seem addicted to

Dear Sobriety’ is another very serious ballad., that tackles the very real topic of alcoholism that runs in families. “It runs in my family, it runs in my blood, and just like my daddy, I can’t get enough. Every last drop I say it’s the last, then I drive to the store and I give up my plan Dear sobriety, please come back to me”. ‘Damn Thing’, a chicken pickin’, knee-slappin’ toe-tapper, gets things moving again. Now we’re cookin’ with fire! “Been washed in the blood of the lamb, and I’ve washed blood off my hands, and can’t do a damn thing about it…” Banjo heaven! Yee-ha!

‘Girls Like Us’ is another ballad. “Girls like us, we don’t mess around we don’t tie you up just to let you down. Don’t girls like us make the world go ‘round. and ‘round”and the Annies close out the album with a pretty little love song. ‘I Hope You’re the End of My Story’ “I hope you’re the end of my story, I hope you’re as far as it goes, I hope you’re the last word I ever utter, It’s never your time to go.” Aaah, so they do have a soft side, after all!

Buy it here

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July 12, 2013

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