Song Reviews – New Tracks from The Pistol Annies
The Pistol Annies present an important element to mainstream country as a unique project that compiles well-recognized star power with independent substance and a rootsy sound. Ahead of the release of their third album Interstate Gospel, they have made available three new songs which pick up where the trio left off in 2013—presenting music with a bit more twangy tones than you would expect from a major label project, along with songs that are willing to say something off-the-script from today’s radio fare. If anything, these three new songs are even more country than the leading songs from their previous two records.
Beyond the songs themselves, possibly the most important question to ask is which one will be selected as a bona fide single to push to country radio and to the public to help spread awareness of the album, which is ultimately the goal of any single, radio or otherwise. One of the reasons we’ve seen the disappearance of women from the country music charts recently is the unwillingness by the industry to champion specific tracks.
With Kacey Musgraves’ recent album release, two songs were sent to country radio simultaneously, damming both from being considered legitimately for the radio format, and also confusing playlist curators as to what should be the focus. With the din of music and information the public is faced with every day, it is imperative one song and one song only is marked as the spearhead for a given project, pushed forward until the public becomes weary of its powers, and then a second single is selected.
Whether it’s any of these three songs, or another selection from the new album, it’s important one song from the Pistol Annies is settled upon to give radio and playlists the option to include it en masse. If the single ultimately fails, so be it. But it shouldn’t fail because no effort was made, or because it was unclear what the lead single was.
“Got My Name Changed Back”
This is classic Pistol Annies, with the saunter and attitude the band has built their personas around. The Pistol Annies aren’t just a country music supergroup. They’re a performing troupe imbued with the thematic approach of women outsmarting their men, enacting revenge, or at times outright taking advantage of the opposite sex for their own personal gain. “I broke his heart and I took his money,” Miranda Lambert sings victoriously, but at the heart of this song is a very country theme many can relate to involving divorce, while also revitalizing the classic country approach of confronting taboos of the American South—something also at the heart of the Pistol Annies project.
The “Yeah Yeah!” lines could have been toned down a bit, but this is what The Pistol Annies do, and that answer chorus will be a fun moment from the stage when “Got My Name Changed Back” is featured live.
Possibly the biggest takeaway from the song is the extended breaks both the dobro and electric guitar are given. Instead of wearing out the theme of the track with additional verses, it becomes an instrumental exhibition to fill the time. Though The Pistol Annies are far from radio darlings, this is still a mainstream project recorded and released under the auspices of Sony Nashville. More instrumentation is always a welcomed element from Music Row, and also makes the song more appealing to the opposite sex. Even if you’re not receptive to the theme of post-divorce freedom, you can’t helped be sucked in by stellar musical performances, while giving the song a good energy.
Drawing from the sense of freedom one succumbs to when you take the ramp onto the highway with no intention of exiting for hours, the title track of the Pistol Annies impending third album draws parallels to this sensation, and the uplifting and unburdening of the spirit when immersed in the songs or stories of the Holy Ghost. Led mostly by Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe, “Interstate Gospel” should be a good tone setter for the upcoming album. The Pistol Annies have always offered an escape of the mind for listeners, and who doesn’t daydream of freedom-inducing road trips when mired in the doldrums of everyday life?
Like “Got My Name Changed Back,” “Interstate Gospel” is rootsy and woody in its musical approach. It lets the lyrics set the mood, but then is willing to leave some of the storytelling to the instruments themselves, setting an up-tempo experience to match the pentameter of the white lines passing under the wheels of a road trip.
“Best Years Of My Life”
A slow ballad with sentimental lyrics, “Best Years of My Life” shows a willingness to admit to vulnerability and regret by the Annies, and is also more lyrical driven and thoughtful compared to the other two early tracks. Though a band like Hellbound Glory may tip its hat to slipping the term “Percocet” into a country song rhyming it decently, the pentameter of this first line of this song creates an initial speed bump in the otherwise smooth track. But “Best Years Of My Life” settles into being an emotionally-stirring song and performance, willing to admit there are consequences to the behavior often unfolding in others Pistol Annies songs, which is a lost sense of purpose and the attempt to fill it with intoxicants and other self-destructive behaviors.
To understand what the Pistol Annies do, you have to buy into the fantasy element they look to set in their music. It’s escapism. But no fully-fleshed narrative is complete without repercussions, or a presentation of the other side of the coin. This is what “Best Years Of My Life” accomplishes.
September 27, 2018 @ 11:50 am
pass on the music, but Ashley Monroe can eat crackers in my bed anytime.
September 27, 2018 @ 12:21 pm
OMG I love the reference
October 7, 2018 @ 2:12 am
Kevin – here is the song for you then :
Hands on you – Ashley Monroe
September 27, 2018 @ 12:30 pm
These are great songs. Creative lyrics, beautiful harmonies, looking forward to the full album.
From the above comments looks like we see the reason women have troubles w/ country music. Seriously of all days why are “boys” so gross?
September 27, 2018 @ 1:42 pm
Yet how is it empowering women to call other women “whores”. Especially in the world we are living in today. I know it’s going to cause flack. It’s just not acceptable anymore.
September 27, 2018 @ 6:42 pm
I’ve seen a couple of people bristling at her calling women whores but also pointing out the hypocrisy since everybody knows how Miranda spent her summer.
September 30, 2018 @ 2:17 am
Oh wow, that is so exciting! …and so NOT relevant to this story. When will you trolls realize that the true followers of this site are here for the music, not to discuss who is sleeping with whom. I have a question: what did you think about the music? Oh, I get it, you didn’t even listen to it. You are not here for the music, you are just here to gossip. Which means you don’t belong here wasting space and people’s time. Read the mission statement, then go somewhere else, please. Doesn’t TMZ have a comments section or something where you can spew your trash?
September 30, 2018 @ 7:34 am
Thank you for your riveting contribution to this conversation. Really enjoy reading your in-depth comments on this here website.
September 27, 2018 @ 12:41 pm
After one listen to ‘Got My Name Changed Back’ my initial thought was quite literally- “Wow! Dobro! And lots of it!!”
Of the three, that would be my single of choice, but all are excellent in my opinion.
October 1, 2018 @ 2:41 am
Actually, search my comments. other than to point out turds in the punch bowl like you and your troll-like brethren, my comments are ALWAYS about the music and the topic. You and your type that have infiltrated this website with your gossipy nonsense make me sick, so occasionally i point you out. I wish Trigger would just bite the bullet and block your type altogether. I come for the music, you come to spread trash, so don’t point your silly little finger at me when you know you are the trash monger that is wasting people’s time.
October 2, 2018 @ 8:50 am
Going out on a limb here, guessing you didn’t mean to comment on FeedThemHogs relevant post?
September 27, 2018 @ 1:21 pm
“Name changed back” is something that I, a single man who doesn’t care for obnoxious women, can not relate to in any capacity, and as such it’s very annoying to me. ALTHOUGH it strikes me as melodically and rhythmically similar to some of the old boogie Country songs from the 40s and 50s, just ten times faster.
What the hell is going on with that guitar intro on “Interstate Gospel?” is the guitar player choking on spaghetti while succumbing to a seizure? It sounds like they crashed and burned in the studio but didn’t have the money to do it over. After they get that waste of audio out of the way the song itself is fine, although maybe stop banging that blasted cymbal on the off beat, it distracts from the song. A tune like this feels like it needs a bit more bass, (speaking as a bass player) the acoustic guitar solo is fine but it sounds like the electric guitar player is desperate to restore his honor after ruining the intro and is just crowding out the acoustic player, and while te acoustic part is very tasteful and melodic, that wailing of the electric at seemingly random intervals disrupts what could have been a really great solo.
“Best years of our lives” WOW. WOWEE WOW WOW.
This is what I like about this group. It’s real, it hurts, it makes me feel emotionally engaged. The steel isn’t drowned out and hidden, the lyrics are complex enough to make Luke Bryan run for his dictionary, and more complicated than the entire Taylor Swift catalogue.
And I like that melodic run-in to each phrase from starting low and going to higher notes. And as a musical enthusiast can I express the value of pronunciation in a phrase like this? the way singers hold their lips and their vocal chords make certain pitches and syllables change effects. Ramin Karimloo and Colm Wilkinson both put this to amazing use in their Phantom of the Opera performances but its employed very nicely here in that phrase.
So I’m very excited, but I’m hoping to hear more of the latter ballads and less of Miranda’s trademark angry women with an attitude songs
September 27, 2018 @ 4:05 pm
So I wasn’t pleased with “Name Changed Back” before but within the hour it was stuck in my head so I came back and listened again. I decided I actually really like it after all!
So please disregard that section of my earlier review
September 27, 2018 @ 4:27 pm
I disregard every second of all of your reviews.
September 27, 2018 @ 5:53 pm
No need to be mean there hoss. Especially to someone who’s willing to admit to changing their mind in this day and age.
September 28, 2018 @ 7:17 am
Ditto for yours.
September 29, 2018 @ 11:18 am
You affect me greatly.
September 27, 2018 @ 4:58 pm
The fact is , Fuzzy , ANYTHING can grow on us ….and the industry counts on that .
We’ve all caught ourselves singing along to a shitty jingle on radio or TV even after we’ve decided how really shitty it is . That’s why its called COMMERCIAL music …it sells commercials by BEING one ( Meant To Be ..etc.. ).
In any case , the litmus test for a GREAT song ( when pitching it to a publisher , an artist , a producer , a song contest ….whatever ) is whether it holds up after one or maybe two listens …and whether it holds up on a lot of fronts …..the title , the melody , the tempo/radio energy and , most importantly , perhaps , the lyric …or so it should be ….the narrative hook ( if there is one and many songs today do not have one ……they have no ‘clever’….no play on word ….no twist in the story ….no NOTHIN’ creatively speaking ) ,
We all know that we can like a song more over time for whatever reasons. In the past for serious song people in the industry, it had to work on all of those levels within a listen or two or its a giant PASS in terms of it being cut . For today’s radio climate though , it only needs to be forced upon listeners enough times to become ” successful ” regardless of whether or not the aforementioned elements are in place . And this ain’t ME talking . This is what anyone who’s ever pitched songs or been involved with artists and labels looking for songs have known forever. Get enough airplay for a song and people will , through familiarity alone , want to hear it over and over ….its becomes part of the listener’s comfort zone whether its a Great song ….or a piece of shit ( Meant to Be ) .
Personally , I love when a song is so undeniably good , so interesting , so fresh , clever or just SMART that I don’t need to hear it a dozen times to be ‘ hooked ‘ . But sure …we are all guilty to some extent of being prey to the ‘overworked , overplayed , over promoted song . And as I said , that is exactly what the industry survives on .
September 27, 2018 @ 6:05 pm
the ONLY song that earworms me is that stupid backroad song, and I hate it. it doesn’t grow on me, it makes me pretty mad. but this at least turned out to be less annoying after I listened to it a second time. Agreed with Trig about those “yeah yeahs” but thats something at least unique and original.
September 28, 2018 @ 6:16 pm
Wait a dadgum minute. Did Fizzy10Shits just… ADMIT that he was… WRONG?!?!
Lord Jesus!!! Hell’s frozen! Pigs are flying! It’s the fricking APOCK-O-LIPS. Male Chauvinists be forewarned…. the end is NIGH.
September 27, 2018 @ 2:10 pm
The 3rd song is similar to 70’s Dolly, which is awesome.
September 27, 2018 @ 2:55 pm
I quite enjoyed ‘Best Years’ and it’s quirky attempt to fit far too many words into a line.
The other two songs were not my style
September 27, 2018 @ 10:09 pm
Interesting ….I turned it off shortly after I heard that ” quirky attempt to fit far too many words in a line ” . It distracted me ….I wouldn’t want to listen to that over and over again . . No offense NJ .
September 28, 2018 @ 11:20 pm
I probably won’t listen to it again either to be honest, but it was fine in the moment.
September 27, 2018 @ 3:09 pm
Music is obviously subjective but these are so bad. The magic they had is gone.
September 27, 2018 @ 3:25 pm
“Got My Name Changed Back” — slight but fun Miranda showcase.
“Interstate Gospel” — love Angaleena and Ashley on this one. 😀
“Best Years of My Life” — pretty tune, lovely harmonies, interesting lyrics. Possibly my favorite of the three.
September 27, 2018 @ 8:28 pm
Agreed, great song but it’d be better if each of the women sang a verse, like on Hell In Heels
Leland C Lawrence
September 27, 2018 @ 3:32 pm
Best Years of my Life is the best of the 3 by far. imo I prefer each of them more as solo acts personally.
September 28, 2018 @ 7:24 am
I find that each of their solo acts are more personally resonant, but I appreciate three talented women getting together and having fun.
September 29, 2018 @ 4:36 pm
I love Ashley’s voice and verses on Pistol Annie songs but, I hate to admit it…her full albums have put me to sleep. They were too monotonous. I enjoyed Angaleena’s solo albums much more.
jessie with the long hair
September 27, 2018 @ 4:48 pm
short bald & fat
September 27, 2018 @ 6:05 pm
the new honky tonk angels
September 27, 2018 @ 6:25 pm
“So I’m very excited, but I’m hoping to hear more of the latter ballads and less of Miranda’s trademark angry women with an attitude songs”
AMEN TO THAT!
September 27, 2018 @ 8:27 pm
I absolutely love the sound. Can’t wait to get the entire album.
A Country-Pop Fan
September 28, 2018 @ 1:49 am
Probably not the style of other fellow country-pop fans, but if I were to choose which song I wanna hear on the radio together with some crappy pop-country, I’d choose Best Days of My Life as a single to balance things out, and to give listeners a breathe of fresh air.
September 28, 2018 @ 3:37 am
So happy to hear new songs from the Pistol Annies. Love these songs and find them very unique. Can’t wait for the album. Emmylou Harris looked really good in the pictures with the Pistol Annies at the CMHOF.
September 28, 2018 @ 5:18 am
Good tracks, interested to see which ones get sent to radio just to end up being ignored. I am looking forward to this album.
September 28, 2018 @ 6:48 am
I can’t stop hearing “recreational purposin'” for some reason instead of percocet. But yes, these tracks, especially best years, are great.
September 28, 2018 @ 7:29 am
The increasing gullibility of the general public can be displayed by the acceptance of Miranda and Chief Eric as anything more than pretending to be outlaws.
September 28, 2018 @ 8:33 am
Easy there, Honcho.
September 29, 2018 @ 12:20 pm
You’re literally the only person using the word outlaw in this post and comment thread.
September 29, 2018 @ 4:38 pm
What the fuck does that matter? Go eat some pumpkin spice, literally.
Dirt Road Derek
September 28, 2018 @ 10:15 am
I’ve given up on trying to pick a favorite, all three tracks are fantastic. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album. Right now this one is on track to be my favorite release of 2018.
September 28, 2018 @ 5:37 pm
I really like “Got My Name Changed Back” and “Interstate Gospel”. I don’t usually like ballads as much, though I can see why so many are moved by “Best Years of My Life”.
I don’t listen much to music on the radio, but I’d prefer to hear on radio an up-tempo song much more than a ballad, preferring to listen to the slower song in context of the whole Album.
Looking forward to the Album, especially after hearing these!
Fuzzy TwoShirts–I really don’t see Miranda’s songs as “trademark angry with an attitude”. Which songs were you referring to with that–you must mean most or almost all with the word ‘trademark’. Her fans have liked her ‘tough-gal’ attitude at times, enjoying those songs a lot of people can relate to and have fun with. She also has some of the most touching, sensitive songs that have been sang in recent years, all that she wrote or co-wrote. She has both types, which is what made me (and many others) such a fan. ‘Attitude’ yes, and glad she has had those type-songs. ‘Trademark angry’–I don’t see that at all.
September 30, 2018 @ 9:17 am
A lot of her earlier work struck me as “very similar” in the sense that it appeals to other angry women or bored housewives, but as a single male with a career in the arts it got old for me real fast. After Tin Man I felt like her art started being a bit more “diverse” and I definitely think that she’s “less objectionable” than 90% of the mainstream.
So I backed down on a lot of my criticisms after she started releasing material that didn’t just seem like another opportunity to be angry about something, and I enjoyed the previous P.A. albums more than her solo work.
I even had the chance to play on a DIY local recording of Tin Man that was done for some festival, although with that were some Rhonda Vincent covers as well.
September 30, 2018 @ 4:43 pm
Thanks for the response that was nice to my comment about this. At least you did listen to the songs before making an opinion. I couldn’t get enough of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”,
“Mama’s Broken Heart”; “Fastest Girl in Town” is just so fun—I think that video is one of the best ever. I see a guy might not connect to esp the first two the same. She has had so many other type songs, though, I’d think anyone could relate equally to, thru-out all of the Albums.
I think she’s connected so much to fans, from the start, with her songs that do show ‘Attitude’, that I’ve thought makes them stand out and be so much fun.
As a gal I can listen to a guy sing from a guy’s point of view, I did it for years with Rock Music. If I like the music, and the lyrics are respectful, I’d even like the songs. But Rock Music was different, with so few female voices over the years, equality was never expected (or even looked for). It’s of course expected in Country Music, where women have been represented over the years, to hear female voices/ Artists as much. The ‘Pop world’ sure has this equality, where if anything it seems women rule the airwaves.
September 29, 2018 @ 8:44 am
Again , I don’ think much of these particulars songs …but huge points because the substance and certainly the SOUND is COUNTRY and I do look forward to the record as a whole .
One other thing I’m noticing is that, as with their other records , it sounds like Miranda with a couple of back-up singers , to my ear . Her voice stands out with character , attitude , emotion , range , commitment and pitch . When the others sing lead vocal , there is a completely different energy about the sound ..its lacking in all of the aforementioned . I understand the point may be power/safety in numbers …its a novelty …..but I’d stop far short of calling this a ‘supergroup’.
Miranda’s career is carrying ANY momentum the Annie’s may have mustered and I think its blatantly obvious that the other ladies with anyone other than Miranda would be as lost in the musical continuum as so many other indie AND label acts are ….faceless , no musical identity and relying on the right producer to help define what they are doing so its palatable to the mainstream . Miranda gives the Annie’s a chance , a least , and a far bigger audience than I believe they might have otherwise . CSN was a supergroup….the HIGHWAYMEN ..were a supergroup …BLIND FAITH was a supergroup …..TRIO was a supergroup ……
Pistol Annie’s ..?…its just Miranda and friends . Albeit making some real COUNTRY music !