As if Miranda Lambert didn’t have enough going on with her red-hot solo career and her marriage to Blake Shelton, somehow she finds time for cool little side projects, like her group, the Pistol Annies. The trio is comprised of Miranda Lambert (Lone Star Annie), Ashley Monroe (Hippie Annie) and Angaleena Presley (Holler Annie). Their 2011 “Hell on Heels” was a critically acclaimed (although not embraced by radio) debut. Perhaps the folks at those big awards shows (CMAs, ACMs, Grammys) were confused by the Annies and their alter egos. Maybe they thought the gals made the album as a farce? I can’t think of any other explanation as to why they weren’t nominated for Best Album, Best New Artist or Best Group. Yeah, the record was THAT good, and if you, as a country music fan, don’t own it, your collection is incomplete.
That having been said, I had high expectations for their sophomore CD, “Annie Up.” The twelve tracks were all co-written by Lambert, Monroe and Presley. Here’s my track-by-track review.
I Feel a Sin Comin’ On, the opening track, is a bluesy sultry number. that starts out acapella, with finger snaps. “You can see it all over my face, sweet temptation all over the place, give me tall, dark and handsome, mix it up with something strong. I feel a sin comin’ on.”
Hush Hush Fast and incredibly catchy, this is the album’s first single, and the Annies’ highest-charting hit to date. The song spells family Dysfunction with a capital D. “My brother got out of rehab, right around Christmas time. Mama made a turkey, Daddy was worried he was gonna have to break up a fight...” Fun!
Being Pretty Ain’t Pretty is a tongue-in-cheek ballad. “The red on my nails keeps chipping off, the pink on my lips just adds to the flaws, I ain’t good at fake lashes, anytime I wear high heels I fall.” Ha... funny concept, but I don’t believe the P.A.s really have these problems!
Unhappily Married, for me, is a stand-out track. It’s plucky, playful, and... startlingly real. (Well maybe it’s just where my life is at.) "You better start workin' some overtime, can't buy heels on nickels and dimes. You're goin' bald, and I'm gettin' fat. I hate your mom, and you hate my dad. Hey, hey, it's alright, everybody fusses, everybody fights,With all of the baggage you and me carry, we'll spend forever unhappily married.”
Loved by a Workin’ Man A mid-tempo ode to all the blue-collar, hard-workin’ guys out there who might not help out with the housework, or bring home roses, but who know how to treat a woman right.“He knows how to treat his woman, and he knows how to make ends meet. He’ll take you for a ride in his four wheel drive, and he’ll fix about anything. He likes to get dirty but he cleans up good. He drinks with his buddies, but he prays when he should. There ain’t nothing better than, bein’ loved by a workin’ man.”
Blues, You’re a Buzzkill is a dark ode to depression, that can’t be abated by Jack Daniels or pain pills. “The way that you hurt, the way that you sting, the way that you bring me down to my knees. If whiskey can’t drown you, what the hell will? Hey blues, you’re a buzzkill.” Powerful.
Don’t Talk About Him, Tina Swinging,sassy woman-to-woman advice "Don’t talk about him, Tina. Best thing he ever did was leave ya. You better pull yourself together. Tina I swear you’re better than just waitin’ around on some rodeo man.” We all need a bestie like Lone Star Annie to give us a pep talk during those woe-is-me, emotional ruts.
Trading One Heartbreak for Another Ballad One of the sadder songs on the album.“I’ve traded on heartbreak for another, one kind of pain for a different kind of pain and I wonder if this gonna hurt even more. I’m finally alive, but it’s killing who I’m living for.” This song effectively portrays the vicious cycle of destructive relationships that some women seem addicted to.
Dear Sobriety I thought, from the title, that this was gonna be a fun song, but it’s actually another very serious ballad., that tackles the very real topic of alcoholism that runs in families. Family alcoholism. “It runs in my family, it runs in my blood, and just like my daddy, I can’t get enough. Every last drop I say it’s the last, then I drive to the store and I give up my plan Dear sobriety, please come back to me.”
Damn Thing Okay I was getting depressed... Thank goodness this track is a chicken pickin’, knee-slappin’ toe-tapper! Now we’re cookin’ with fire! “Been washed in the blood of the lamb, and I’ve washed blood off my hands, and can’t do a damn thing about it...” Banjo heaven! Yee-ha!
Girls Like Us Another ballad. This one kind of drags. Lyricially, I think it’s the weakest link on the album. “Girls like us, we don’t mess around we don’t tie you up just to let you down. Don’t girls like us make the world go ‘round. and ‘round.”
I Hope You’re the End of My Story The Annies close out the album with a pretty little love song. “I hope you’re the end of my story, I hope you’re as far as it goes, I hope you’re the last word I ever utter, It’s never your time to go.” Aw, so they do have a soft side, after all!
Personally, I like them better when they’re “Takin’ Pills” or singing about a “Trailer For Rent” (both kickin’ tunes off their first album). “Annie Up” will probably sell more copies than its predecessor, because their first record got almost zero promotion (but still sold fairly well). Now that they’re “established,” radio has been more receptive to the Annies, and their Facebook pages has over 387,000 likes. Looks like the gals are on their way to selling lots of records. I personally liked the first one better. I rate this one a B-Plus. I would have given it an A-minus if there weren’t so many ballads bogging it down. You’ll give it an A if you love old-school, traditional country, with steel guitars, banjo and twang. If Loretta Lynn owns an iPod, you can bet she’ll have “Annie Up” on her playlist!
Review submitted by Cricket Moss email@example.com