Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pistol Annies: Annie Up

Smart, funny, independent, and sexy, 
the soul of American country pop lives on

Dexter Cozies Up to Lambert, Presley, and Monroe
Miranda Lambert
     I respect Miranda Lambert’s solo career and admire her gutsy songwriting talent, but her singing voice is an acquired taste.  Her timbre and range are probably closer to Hank Williams than any male singer who’s been influenced by him.  And, I realize this will make me sound like an American pop heathen, but I
don’t care for his voice either, though his songs are classics.  That being said, Lambert’s side project – the trio of Pistol Annies – is vocally gorgeous.

     Working in close harmony on Annie Up, Lambert (Lone Star Annie), soprano Ashley Monroe (Hippie Annie), and alto Angaleena Presley (Holler Annie) create an image of girlfriends sharing secrets about what it means to be an intelligent, wry woman
Ashley Monroe
now.  Monroe’s singing voice is buttery smooth (yeah, I know I sound like Mike Myers’ Linda Richman character) and provides the yang to Lambert’s yin.  She has a solo album out that’s done well, but I wonder if her voice is distinctive enough to hold its own.  Presley vocally provides the glue to stabilize the other two, but as a soloist she has that seen-it-all-before-and-still-standing quality that reminds me a little of K.T. Oslin in her prime.  Both Presley and Oslin are writers first; they started recording their songs after others had done so.

     The lyrics to “I Feel A Sin Comin’ On” and “Being Pretty Ain’t Pretty” could double as post-feminist texts about the double-edged swords for females in presenting themselves to the male (and female) eye and the attraction/repulsion of liquor and sexuality.  However, the music is catchy and hummable, reflecting the summit of current Country production. The Annies print their lyrics, thereby establishing their credibility as serious artists, regardless of genre, just as leading popular musical performing artists have done since the late ‘60s.

     The major pop theme of love, whether new, broken, mature, or everlasting, plays out in “Loved By A Workin’ Man,” “Unhappily Married,” “Trading One Heartbreak For Another,” and “I Hope You’re The End Of My Story,” but the songs that deal with just trying to survive the day – a major motif in country music – “Hush Hush,” “Blues, You’re A Buzzkill,” “Dear Sobriety” are even more poignant because they’re so initially clear-eyed.  My favorite song, “Girls Like Us,” celebrates female friendship while acknowledging the drudgery that women still endure on a daily basis.  It’s both an expiation and an anthem.

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