NYCS First Impression: Ashley Monroe ‘Sparrow Acoustic Sessions’

Ashley Monroe Sparrow

Singer-songwriter Ashley Monroe released her latest EP entitled Sparrow (Acoustic Sessions) last Friday, which features five stripped-down versions of her songs from her fourth solo record. The rawness of the acoustic album highlights the classic timeless voice Monroe has.

Monroe has perfected the art of storytelling. The first track off of the album “Orphan” reveals the desperation of a person who is lost and wonders how they will make it alone in life. Expressing her sorrow and confusion, Monroe sings, “Nobody told me what I should do/When the world starts to rumble and shake under you/How does an orphan find its way home?/Reach out with no hand to hold/How do I make it alone?”

Monroe dives deep into the art of exploring a woman’s sexuality with her second song “Hands On You.” It is a provocative and seductive song where she reminisces on a past love and longs to be back in that relationship again. “Hands On You” in its acoustic entirety creates an even further sensual listening experience of regret and the passion that no longer exists.

The third track, “Wild Love” was inspired by her first trip to London. Monroe continues to show her sensual side and describes a longing for a love that is untamed and dangerous that will wash over her “like the Barcelona rain.” The acoustic version of “Wild Love” enhances and dramatizes the song and feeling of desperation.

“Paying Attention” is somehow even more heartbreaking in the acoustic rendition as Monroe sings about a love that is no longer in her life. A melancholy feel is created with a simple guitar strum and a violin in the background, as she sings “You promised I’d miss you when you walked away/You were right when you told me I’d be sorry someday/Well, I’m paying attention to you/Oh now, I’m paying attention to you.”

The last track of Sparrow (Acoustic Sessions) is “Keys To The Kingdom,” an emotional religious tribute connecting music to loved ones who have since passed on. With a simple piano playing in the background, the solemn track is beautifully composed and executed.

Sparrow (Acoustic Sessions) showcases Monroe’s unbelievable vocal capability and captures the creativity of her talented songwriting. Take a listen to the full EP below.


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NYCS First Impression: Pistol Annies ‘Interstate Gospel’

Pistol Annies Interstate Gospel

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:

“Interstate Prelude”
“Stop Drop and Roll One”
“Best Years of My Life”
“5 Acres of Turnips”
“When I Was His Wife”
“Got My Name Changed Back”
“Sugar Daddy”
“Leavers Lullaby”
“Interstate Gospel”
“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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Pistol Annies Debut Sassy Music Video for “Got My Name Changed Back”

The fiery trio, Miranda Lambert, Angaleena Presley, and Ashley Monroe, also known as the ‘Pistol Annies’ are back with a vengeance, after a several year hiatus. Lambert surprised fans and reunited the supergroup on her ‘The Bandwagon Tour’, at Jones Beach over the summer, and again earlier this month, during CMT’s special event that honored the women of country music. Now, the ladies are center stage in their newly released music video for their song “Got My Name Changed Back.” The track, co-written by the women is off their anticipated third studio album, Interstate Gospel, which is currently available for pre-order and slated for release this Friday, November 2nd.

Pistol Annies’ girl-power anthem, “Got My Name Changed Back,” is seemingly inspired by Lambert’s public divorce to country star, Blake Shelton, telling the story of a woman, who traded her now, ex-husband’s last name, in favor of her maiden name. The glammed-up ladies, decked in glitter and feathers, storm the courthouse, as Lambert pleads her case to the judge on the witness stand, with Presley and Monroe supporting her from the counsel table. The Pistol Annies turn the courtroom into a party, Monroe’s DMV experience into a photo shoot, and showcase Presley making a giant cash withdrawal to celebrate no longer being a “Mrs.” Check out the antics in the video below.

The music video is over-the-top, fun, and exuberant, just like the lyrics and the ladies, leaving fans, even more excited for the November 2nd release of Interstate Gospel. The Annies have given us a taste of a few other songs off the record, including “Masterpiece,” “Sugar Daddy,” “Interstate Gospel,” and “Best Years of My Life.” Check back next week for our First Impression Review of the album.

Lambert, Presley, and Monroe will head to New York City’s Town Hall for a special, intimate performance on November 2nd. Visit for any updates.


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First Impression: New Music from Mitchell Tenpenny, Kacey Musgraves, Brandon Ray, & More

Some of our favorite artists released new music this Friday including Mitchell Tenpenny, Kacey Musgraves, Brandon Ray, The Swon Brothers, Cole Swindell and more.  Check out our playlist here and while you are at it give us a follow.


Kacey Musgraves Butterflies New Music

First up: Kacey Musgraves released two brand new songs from her next album, Golden Hour, which she announced will be released March 3oth.  “Space Cowboy” is a slow burn, written with Luke Laird and Shane McAnally.  The breakup tune highlights Musgraves’ delicate vocals and her ability to deliver a heartbreaking lyric.  “Butterflies” is quite the opposite from “Space Cowboy” in that it focuses on those first love feelings. As a new bride, Musgraves flits and floats through the enchanting song.


Mitchell Tenpenny New Music

New York Country Swag followers are no stranger to Mitchell Tenpenny who has a killer new song out today.  “Drunk Me” is from his self-titled EP and features Tenpenny’s strong gritty voice, where his desperation rings clear that remaining sober is his only option since “…drunk me can’t get over you”.  While cliched country songs are about indulging yourself in alcohol to get over an ex, Tenpenny flips that on its head, proving his versatile songwriting and deliverance is fast-tracking him to stardom.


Cole Swindell New Music

It’s been a little while since Cole Swindell released a new song and “Break Up in the End” is a total heart-wrencher. The song puts a twist on the sentiment that it is better to love and lost than never love at all.  The single is the first from his next album.  Written by Jon Nite, Chase McGill, and Jessie Jo Dillion,  Swindell wrote on Twitter, “This is one of those songs from the first time I heard it I knew it was special. So many people can relate to the lyrics. Even though I didn’t write it, I’m amazed the best writers in town are bringing me songs like this.”


Brandon Ray New Music

Brandon Ray released “Small Talkin’ today, a new single which was produced by Ross Copperman and Keith Urban. The mid-tempo groove will have you snapping your fingers or tapping your foot at your desk on this dreary Friday. The track was co-written with Jon Mabe and Jessica Mitchell, an idea Ray wrote on Instagram that he has had in his phone for months.


Swon Brothers New music

The Swon Brothers released a nostalgia-filled tune, reminiscent of those great 80’s tunes complete with catchy guitar riffs and questions like “what ever happened to the good old days?“. Head to their Instagram to see some classic throwback photos of the brothers, highlighting those good old days as a promo leading up to today’s release.


Follow us on Spotify to keep up with our favorite new tunes each Friday.



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