Pistol Annies, Annie Up

Stephen M. Deusner

By Stephen M. Deusner

on 05.07.13 in Reviews

Annie Up

Pistol Annies

In his 2012 memoir Waging Heavy Peace, Neil Young gave a rave review to the Pistol Annies, observing that the Nashville trio was “writing their asses off.” It was an unexpected shout-out, to which the women responded via tweet that they nearly peed their pants with excitement. Such praise was warranted. On their 2011 debut, the group — which consists of Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley delivered a batch of sharply observed country tunes that ranged from hilarious to heartbreaking and that appealed even to listeners who profess to love everything but country.

The trio goes from side project to supergroup

Despite that success, it’s still a hard-knock life for these Annies, who smartly chronicle the joys and trials of being a woman in the 2010s. On “Being Pretty Ain’t Pretty,” they spend a lot of time and money applying make-up and even more time and money taking it off, but they never play it off as a joke. Instead, they sympathize with the woman in the mirror and their close harmonies invest the song with a deep melancholy. Songs like “Trading One Heartbreak for Another” and “Dear Sobriety” are quietly devastating, but the Annies’ sass and smarts remain. First single “Hush Hush,” a kissin’ cousin to Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from the Family,” is a devious ode to the open secrets and hidden conflicts that bind a family, even if it sends Monroe out behind the barn to spark one up. The Pistol Annies may have started as a side project for these solo artists, but on Annie Up, they prove themselves as a supergroup.