They’re Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. They’re Pistol Annies and they’re coming after you August 23, 2011 with their debut album “Hell on Heels” loaded with self-penned songwriting, storytelling, style and sass.
You won’t run, you won’t duck, you won’t hide. You will immediately be stopped dead in your tracks by their sultry sound, their syntax of sugar and spice and their no-holds barred, tell-life-as-it-is tunes.
Introduced by Miranda as “my new girl band and girlfriends” at the ACM Girls’ Night Out Tribute on April 22, 2011, Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley hit the stage, the mics and the crowd with the first of ten self-penned and title track off their debut album “Hell on Heels”.
“Hell on Heels” is not a “girly” album and not a guy-bashing album. It’s a gender-friendly album of artistic perfection and point-blank point of view by a powerhouse of talent. This powerhouse trio is a combustible combination of deservingly-decorated Grammy-winning songwriter-solo artist Miranda Lambert, singer-songwriter, too short-lived solo artist Ashley Monroe (known in part for the penning of familiar tunes as “The Truth” – Jason Aldean, “Carnival Ride” – Carrie Underwood, “Heart Like Mine” – Miranda Lambert and also recorded, performed and video-debuted “Satisfied” and “I Don’t Want To” ) and also songwriter Angaleena Presley with “Look It Up” – Ashton Shepherd and “Knocked Up” – Heidi Newfield publishing credits among others under her pick.
This Pistol Annies trio of talent was born during a songwriting session between Lambert and Monroe. While writing and sharing stories, Ashley decided Miranda and Angaleena needed to meet. A late night phone call was made prying Presley from bed and Pistol Annies was registered.
Angaleena boasts “we share everything from shoes to shotguns … to our songs with the world.” Lambert interjects, “together we make an unstoppable musical force. ‘Hell on Heels’ will knock your socks off.” Monroe concurs and concludes “this is just the beginning.”
“Hell on Heels” indeed begins with the sharing of lead vocals by this pistol trio on the title track. This debut hit the public without warning with a long, sultry bugle call to attention. “I don’t know who they are but I like ’em” escaped a comment from an eves-dropper on my review.
The song is a gluttonous boasting of the acquisition of assets by these gold-digging, high-heeled hellions. This sultry warning puts you on alert as to what these lovely ladies are aiming at next.
There’s no “lead singer” in Pistol Annies. The ladies all take individual and group shots at the prospect. Doing so leads you from Pistol Annies trio vocal introduction in “Hell on Heels” to a sweet, not bitter, taste of expectation in the Angaleena lead “Lemon Drop”- enhanced with Miranda and Monroe harmonies. This “Lemon Drop” mid-tempo is rich in vocals and optimism that “life is like a lemon drop … sucking on the bitter to get to the sweet part.”
But that sweetness turns to skin-tingling empathy as Ashley takes the lead in “Beige” with her unique signature vocal range and paints a colorful picture of a passion-to-shame tale. The melody, the harmonies and the tear in Ashley’s voice create a beige yet anything but bland masterpiece here.
Take a quick moment but no more to catch your Beige breath because Miranda quickly changes your mood with “Bad Example”, a foot-stomping, “Jambalaya”-sounding tribute to the ladies willing to do the dirty work in life. An awesome track! “Housewife’s Prayer” is an eerie, tender delivery of cold hard facts that every housewife and probably every person can relate to at some point in life’s frustrations.
“Takin’ Pills” is a hearty good laugh at why a road trio is struggling but subliminally on point to anyone trying to succeed at something. You need to get your act together to make it happen. And like I previously mentioned, “Hell on Heels” is not a guy-bashing day at the shooting range. And “Boys From The South” is an honest confession of what the ladies think of their southern counterparts. “The Hunter’s Wife” may be a no-mercy, just-how-she-lives it southern belle telling of how fed up this darlin’ is with her man but this true-to-life tale is probably a common complaint all across “the country” which is probably why there’s a sign of attitude hanging on her frustrations in “Trailer for Rent”.
Pistol Annies wrap up “Hell on Heels” with “Family Feud”, one of the most outstanding songs I’ve heard in a long time. This is a definite hit, hopefully a single and sadly all too common in life.
From concept to debut, “Hell on Heels” (the album) culminates with artistic precision, hitting the mark on every track. Ten hits, no misses. They’re foot-stomping, fun, in-your-face and phenomenally crafted. The album not only explodes unexpectedly onto the music scene with a second-to-none trio that will leave its footprint in country music history, “Hell on Heels” stands in integrity. Miranda’s an award-winning voice in her own right. It’s a delight, to say the least, to hear Ashley Monroe back on country radio. And would somebody tell me where Nashville’s been hiding Angaleena Presley’s voice and why !
And together the trio penned the entire debut album revealing “we have a rule on the first record that we wanted to write every single song, so we have ten songs that we wrote together.” Well, even among three noted songwriters, to have accomplished that in addition to the formation of the band and its complete surprise debut is honestly the work of a marksman – as these ladies and this project no doubt are.
“Hell on Heels” is a powerfully refreshing return to the sound of country music – lyrically, vocally, musically. The Annies have been polishing their pistols and preparing their pursuit for “three years” Miranda shares in an interview with Country Music Pride. “It’ll be three years in November since we’ve had the (band) idea on the couch and now we’re getting closer to record release.” Well, that kind of professional planning pays off. Pistol Annies have hit the mark with precision. The album and the ladies have longevity and probably a big awards cabinet to build.
“It’s honest and outspoken, just like us” Miranda confides.
That outspoken honesty is Pistol Annies “Hell on Heels” album debut. It’s available everywhere August 23, 2011. It’s a top pick album of 2011 with a long life span. If you don’t pick it up, download it or somehow add it to your playlist – you ain’t country !