Review: Pistol Annies – Hell on Heels (Columbia Nashville, 2011)
With Miranda Lambert having developed a reputation as “a bit of a rocker chick,” her new trio with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley provides an opportunity to indulge more of her East Texas country roots. The trio harmonizes in tight, veering lines that recall the Andrews Sisters, and trade opportunities to write and sing lead. Signed to Columbia, the production has Nashville production quality, but the backings include steel and acoustic guitar, and only occasionally venture into the contemporary country mold. The trio sings gritty songs of outlaw women leading rough lives of marital discord, family dysfunction, economic drought and bad habits. The latter hits a peak with the excess libations of the superbly not-ready-for-modern-country-radio “Takin’ Pills.” Lambert can’t help but shine, but she’s clearly settled into the group vibe, sharing the spotlight with her friends and making this a balanced showcase of all three Annies’ pistol-sharp singing and songwriting talent.