Pistol Annies, "Hell on Heels" (Columbia Nashville)
The Pistol Annies, a new female trio featuring country star Miranda Lambert, proves that the Texas native's success was only an opening step toward introducing a new, more modern country music heroine.
On the trio's first album, "Hell on Heels," Lambert joins forces with friends Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. Both women have reputations as uncompromising songwriters who mix tough-talking honesty with tender-yet-firm resolve when addressing the evolving roles of women in the South, and across the world.
Less homebound than most of their country music predecessors, the trio are reminiscent of the Dixie Chicks in how they employ sassy humor and clever wordplay to challenge men and society about how women are perceived. It's hard to imagine any female Nashville star from a previous generation boasting about her "honk if you're horny" bumper sticker while discussing how audaciously she flaunts her wild ways, as the Annies do in "Bad Example."
Elsewhere, they explore real-life trials facing young women, from the bride who's trying to hide her four-month pregnancy ("Beige") to a struggling woman dropping quarters at a Laundromat while the muffler to her car is held up by a guitar string ("Lemon Drop").
As much fun as they're having, the Pistol Annies address working-class issues in language as real and as colorful as their country music heroes, whatever the gender. This trio aims at a lofty target yet hits the bull's-eye, song after song.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: "Takin' Pills" illustrates how the Pistol Annies stomp their cowboy boots into territory no established country star has dared tread, at least not since the heyday of Hank Williams Jr. and Waylon Jennings. Set to a rocking barroom shuffle, the song merrily celebrates fast men, cigarettes, truck-stop burgers and double dosing on pills and whiskey — openly enjoying everything self-help magazines warn against.
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