Pistol Annies Hell On Heels on 180 Gram LP
It began on a wild hair: two girlfriends on a giddy whim, calling a third gal late one night with an invitation to join the fun and maybe start a little trouble, and a band. “I thought they were in slumber-party mode,” recalls Angaleena Presley of that midnight call she got nearly two years ago from her friend, fellow Nashville-based singer/songwriter Ashley Monroe. Monroe wanted Presley to email every song she had immediately because she and Miranda Lambert had hatched a plan to put a band together and they wanted her onboard.
Between the two of them, Presley and Monroe (from Kentucky and Tennessee, respectively) had landed a handful of cuts working Nashville’s Music Row for the better part of the last decade. Monroe had also worked on projects with famed indie-rocker/producer Jack White and released a major-label debut, while Presley has an exceptional album of her own waiting for a proper home. Lambert, meanwhile, has been one of country music’s biggest stars with three successive #1 albums: 2005’s Kerosene, 2007’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and 2009’s Revolution, while 2011's Four the Record continued that hot streak. Monroe actually co-wrote two songs with Lambert for Revolution, including the chart-topping single “Heart Like Mine.” But the songs they’d begun writing that fateful night at Lambert’s cabin in Oklahoma two Novembers ago begged for an entirely new and different outlet.
“They really weren’t right for me or her individually, but they sounded so cool, we were like, ‘What can we do with these songs?’” says Lambert. “But we also didn’t want to give them to anybody else,” adds Monroe. “It’s like in our minds, we already knew what was going to happen.” That’s when Monroe asked Lambert if she had ever heard her friend Presley’s songs, and promptly made her listen to a few tracks online. “I knew if I played her one note, she’d flip.” She did, and a flurry of excited phone calls, covert meetings and one name change later (their original handle, Calamity Janes, was already owned by a stripper), the Pistol Annies were born.
Fittingly, “Hell on Heels” is both the title track and the opening song on the Pistol Annies’ smoking debut. Clocking in at a lean-and-mean, filler-free 30 minutes, the album is equal parts sass (“Hell on Heels,” “Bad Example,” “Takin’ Pills”), heartache (“Beige,” “The Hunter’s Wife,” “Family Feud”) and hard knocks (“Lemon Drop,” “Housewife’s Prayer” and “Trailer for Rent”), sweetened with just enough wistful Southern romance to reveal a teasing hint of vulnerability (“Boys from the South”). Every song was written by one or more of the Annies, with only one intrepid outsider, Lambert’s husband Blake Shelton, sneaking in for a quick co-writing credit.
The three girls have all adopted nicknames of their own: Lone Star Annie for Texan Lambert, Hippie Annie for Monroe, and Holler Annie for Presley (a nod to her Eastern Kentucky roots). They’re all women of the South, but as Monroe points out, they each bring different musical influences to the table: classic Tennessee country (a la Dolly Parton) from Monroe; bluegrass from Kentucky girl Presley (daughter of a third-generation coal miner); and hard-edged, outlaw honky-tonk (from Waylon to Merle) from Lambert, who cut her teeth playing the rowdy bar and festival circuit in Texas long before finding fame in the mainstream. But it all blends together in the Pistol Annies’ original music as seamlessly as their voices.
Pistol Annies Hell On Heels Track Listing:
1. Hell On Heels
2. Lemon Drop
4. Bad Example
5. Housewife's Prayer
6. Takin' Pills
7. Boys from the South
8. The Hunter's Wife
9. Trailer for Rent
10. Family Feud