NYCS First Impression: Pistol Annies ‘Interstate Gospel’
After five years and a handful of solo projects, the Pistol Annies are back with their third LP, Interstate Gospel, the follow-up to 2013’s Annie Up. If there was any concern about the trio having lost its luster during its hiatus, those fears are allayed immediately with this new release. On Interstate Gospel, the women do what they do best: turn clever lyrics into phenomenal country songs, delivered with honesty, vulnerability, and straight-up storytelling genius.
With Miranda Lambert (“Lonestar Annie”) at the helm, the Annies don’t stray too far from Lambert’s classic sound, but Angaleena Presley (“Holler Annie”) and Ashley Monroe (“Hippie Annie”), help to dirty it up in all of the best ways. While Lambert sometimes caters to the masses on her solo projects (think “Something Bad” or “Little Red Wagon”), she’s at her best as the lead Annie, bringing the twang that’s often missing from the current country climate. On Interstate Gospel, the ballads are overwhelmingly honest and vulnerable, the harmonies are powerful, and there’s a clever snappiness to the lyrics that are unmatched.
On “Sugar Daddy,” the women celebrate a man with money, who’s got “diamonds in his watch, a boat on his dock…chrome on his bike, bourbon on ice.” The lyrics and phrasing here are masterful, discussing the sugar daddy, while then cleverly offering a turn of phrase with “Give me some sugar, daddy.” In that same vein is “Got My Name Changed Back,” written by Monroe and Presley, which is quite simply an ode to the merits of divorce. The track shows Lambert’s sassy site, as she laments, “I don’t want to be a Mrs. on paper no more, got my name changed back.” The instrumentation here perfectly compliments the lyrics, and this song is bound to be the anthem of divorcees for the rest of time.
Although we’re now years removed from Lambert’s divorce from a certain The Voice coach, it’s hard not to wonder which of these songs may have been written during that time. Obviously, “Got My Name Changed Back,” fits that theme, as does “Masterpiece,” a vulnerable track that laments a failed relationship in the public eye.,”Baby, we were just a masterpiece, up there on the wall for the world to see,” the lyrics reveal, and it’s clear what the song is the story of. That’s not to say it’ s a bad thing, as this track is one of Lambert’s all-time finest (think “Tin Man” or “Over You”), proving why she’s been country’s reigning queen for the better part of the last decade.
“Best Years of My Life” and “When I Was His Wife” tell similar tales of marriage gone wrong, while “Stop Drop and Roll One” shows the three women trading lead vocals. The album’s title track does the same, with the trio mixing religious stories (“Even Moses was a basketcase“) to tell the story of how the road is saving them. “This Interstate Gospel is saving my soul,” they sing. “These church signs, they light up these roads that I roam, they’re leading me closer to calling me home.”
While a Pistol Annies project may never get the attention of a solo Lambert release, Interstate Gospel is the album that the genre has so desperately needed. While female artists and girl groups struggle to get the airplay they deserve, the Annies have put out one of mainstream country’s strongest and most honest releases in years. Together, the trio combines their diverse voices, experiences, and styles into traditional country storytelling and the result is truly a masterpiece. While much of the album deals with marriage gone wrong, Interstate Gospel tells of a different kind of musical marriage between three incredible women that has gone incredibly right.
Interstate Gospel track listing:
“Stop Drop and Roll One”
“Best Years of My Life”
“5 Acres of Turnips”
“When I Was His Wife”
“Got My Name Changed Back”
“This Too Shall Pass”
Interstate Gospel is now available everywhere you stream or buy music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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