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melody. The ten songs are a mix of naughty fun, hard luck stories and southern sweetness; the majority are based on personal experience. In Lemon Drop Presley tells a story of lean times and ingenuity. Living poor and in Nashville, Angaleena was dismayed one afternoon to find her car making a noise as though “…the world was coming to an end.” Upon investigation, she found the muffler hanging by a thread. The resourceful Annie cut a string from her guitar, reattached the muffler and continued on her way. Lemon Drop recounts the woeful tale, but concludes cheerfully: ‘My life is like a lemon drop; I’m sucking on the bitter to get to the sweet part. I know there are better days ahead.’ The grit and determination in Lemon Drop, the matter-of-fact


honesty found in songs like Housewife’s Prayer and Family Feud have struck a chord with music critics and fans alike. Pages upon pages of comments are attached to YouTube videos of the HELL ON HEELS song tracks. There is general agreement among commenters: ‘Pistol Annies!! Damn fine country girls!!’ From there, the reviews fall neatly into one of three categories. A considerable number applaud the trio for bringing country music back to its roots: ‘Thank you girls for bringing real country back for women,’ or ‘This is country, folks—not that pop crap!’ A solid subset insist that: ‘This song is about my life,’ or ‘These vixens wrote my life.’ The last and perhaps the largest group of comments declare an everlasting love, or maybe just a hankering, for the three sweet, sexy singers. One man responded to Hell On Heels by saying: ‘I’m hell on cowboy boots, and baby, I’m coming for you!’ The Annies deny any deliberate intent to mould their music


to a retro country style. Instead, they believe that it is the plain talking and down to earth honesty of their songs that draw comparisons to Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn. Says band member, Miranda Lambert: “We’re just three country girls, telling it like it is.” They tell it like it is, and tell how they feel in terms that mirror the everyday life of everyday people. Lambert admits that she is often approached by fans who thank her for representing normal girls, and for addressing topics that others might avoid. The artist agrees: “We don’t mince words. We have the same problems every girl has; one hundred percent


what you see is what you get.” Among the topics that the Pistol Annies are willing to discuss


are stories of poverty, domestic abuse and divorce. Their candid songwriting seems a true reflection of the women’s personal opinions and beliefs. During early 2012 Miranda Lambert was one of several stars who publicly objected to musician Chris Brown’s performance at the Grammy Awards. Three years earlier, Brown had made headlines for assaulting then girlfriend Rihanna. At the time of the Grammys he remained on probation for that felony offence. Miranda took to the social media site Twitter to voice her displeasure: ‘Not cool that we act like that didn’t happen. He needs to listen to Gunpowder And Lead and be put back in his place. Not at the Grammys.’ The focus of Gunpowder And Lead is on a woman who waits at home with a loaded shotgun to exact revenge on the man that abused her. The song was Lambert’s first solo top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs list in 2008. Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley agree that the band


has found a unique niche, and that niche is honesty. Like Loretta Lynn, the Pistol Annies are comfortable talking about real life, even when life itself isn’t very comfortable. They hope that their songs paint pictures that both young and old can understand. Presley likens the opportunity to Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood, the long-running children’s television series that boldly took on difficult subjects like divorce. “If young girls can relate to our songs,” says Angaleena, “I will feel very blessed.” While all of the Annies share a commitment to making good,


honest music, each of the girls brings a unique personality and perspective to the band. The others describe Tennessee native Ashley Monroe as the sweet spirit, the gentle voice of reason. At twenty-five the youngest of the group, Ashley is nicknamed ‘Hippie Annie’ for her calm, peace loving ways. Miranda Lambert’s handle is ‘Lone Star Annie’. The native Texan is the voice of experience. A Grammy award winning solo artist, she is also ‘Planning Annie,’ trusted to make the right business plans and decisions. Angaleena Presley is the older sister and best girlfriend to her two younger ‘siblings’. Known as ‘Holler Annie,’ Angaleena comes from eastern Kentucky where a holler is the valley


Maverick 35


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