NYCS First Impression: The Highwomen Self Titled Debut Album

The Highwomen

On paper, The Highwomen might not seem to make much sense. You have pop-country’s reigning “It Girl,” a superstar songwriter, an Americana queen, and a Grammy winner who’s always deserved more attention than she’s received. Yet, somehow, the diverse foursome of Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby, Amanda Shires, and Brandi Carlile is one of the best things to happen to country music this decade.

Today (September 6), the powerhouse quartet released their debut album, The Highwomen, produced by Dave Cobb.

The project was the brainchild of Shires in response to the lack of females on country radio. Carlile was the first member enlisted, and so began the movement of The Highwomen. “Music was happening in the room, and you could almost touch it,” Shires tell the New York Times of the recording process. “It hadn’t happened for me in a long time. We would sing sometimes, and I would get so excited I would almost feel like being a ding-dong and crying.”

The album opens with “Highwomen,” a new female take on “Highwayman,” released in 1985 by the male super-group of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. It sets the tone for the album, imbued with unique stories and powerful harmonies. Originally written by Jimmy Webb, the Highwomen enlisted him to make the lyrical swaps on their new version, which features each taking on the role of a different persecuted woman. “We rewrote it with fates that befell women,” Carlile told Rolling Stone. “A doctor convicted of witchcraft; an immigrant who died trying to get over the border but got the kids over safe and sound; a preacher; and a freedom rider who gets shot.”

The album’s first single, “Redesigning Women,” continues the story being told here, as they sing of modern women who do it all. “Redesigning women/ Running the world while we’re cleaning up the kitchen/ Making bank, shaking hands, driving 80/ Tryna get home just to feed the baby/ Skipping the bread for the butter/ Changing our minds like we change our hair color/ Yeah, ever since the beginning/ We’ve been redesigning women”

While the foursome may be “Redesigning Women,” there’s also no place in their lives for no-good men. This theme carries through “Loose Change” and “Don’t Call Me.” Morris leads the charge on the former, which she co-wrote, proclaiming, “Loose change/ I ain’t worth a thing to you/ Loose change/ You don’t see my value/ I’m gonna be somebody’s/ Lucky penny someday/ Instead of rolling around your pocket like loose change.”

The album continues with a diverse assortment of songs, covering various topics and tempos. The album’s most country song is “My Name Can’t Be Mama,” which easily could’ve been released by the likes of Reba or Dolly Parton thirty years ago. It’s a toe-tapping ode to the perils of motherhood. “I’m not a fan of mornings, and I love my Chardonnay,” they admit. “My name can’t be Mama today.” There’s also the clever “If She Ever Leaves Me,” a nod to Carlile’s sexuality, as she sings of a man attempting to pick up her wife. “If she ever leaves me,” She muses here. “It won’t be for you.”

The album also features heartbreak on “Cocktail and a Song,” written in tribute to Shires’ late father. There’s also the up-tempo “Heaven is a Honkytonk,” which celebrates the fact that all of our heroes are bound to end up in Heaven. “Jesus, He loves his sinners,” They remind us on the track co-written by Ray LaMontagne, “And heaven is a honkytonk.”

Perhaps the album’s most important track is the pre-released, “Crowded Table,” co-written by Hemby, Carlile, and Lori McKenna. Here, they sing of an inclusivity that’s a common thread through the entire album.“I want a house with a crowded table/ And a place by the fire for everyone.” The message here is simple, but necessary, conveyed in a way that feels sincere and poignant without being preachy.

Following the theme of inclusivity, the album features touches from a wide range of Nashville and music industry heavy-hitters, including Sheryl Crow, Yola, and Jason Isbell, as well as co-writes by Rodney Clawson, Lori McKenna, Miranda Lambert, and Ray LaMontagne.  “Anyone can be a Highwoman,” Carlile says in a statement. “It’s about banding together, abandoning as much ego as humanly possible, holding one another up and amplifying other women every chance we get. Shoulder to shoulder. One push, one love.”

To keep up with The Highwomen find them on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

The Highwomen is now available you buy or stream 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.

The Highwomen Track List

1. Highwomen (written by Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Jimmy Webb)
2. Redesigning Women (written by Natalie Hemby, Rodney Clawson)
3. Loose Change (written by Maren Morris, Maggie Chapman, Daniel Layus)
4. Crowded Table (written by Natalie Hemby, Lori McKenna, Brandi Carlile)
5. My Name Can’t Be Mama (written by Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires)
6. If She Ever Leaves Me (written by Amanda Shires, Jason Isbell, Chris Thompkins)
7. Old Soul (written by Maren Morris, Luke Dick, Laura Veltz)
8. Don’t Call Me (written by Amanda Shires, Peter Levin)
9. My Only Child (written by Natalie Hemby, Amanda Shires, Miranda Lambert)
10. Heaven Is A Honky Tonk (written by Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Ray LaMontagne)
11. Cocktail And A Song (written by Amanda Shires)
12. Wheels Of Laredo (written by Tim Hanseroth, Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth)




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The Highwomen Perform & Chat With Sirius XM The Highway in NYC

The Highwomen, the newly debuted female-fronted crusade composed of Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby, graced SiriusXM Studios, NYC with an afternoon of music and stories yesterday (July 31).  “It’s a movement. And it’s a humble movement. It’s one that we’re inviting everyone to be apart of; you’re all Highwomen. Even you guys,” Carlile said with a wink, establishing a lighthearted, welcoming vibe in the room.

Upon introduction, the girls reset history and honed in on their beginnings. “It started with Amanda Shires coming up to me backstage at the Basement East with a drink and saying, “You know, I want to start a band with you called The Highwomen,” Carlile tells. Shortly after, Morris received a phone call from Carlile. “I was doing Jimmy Fallon performing “Girl” because it was my album release week back in March, and Brandi Carlile called me and was like, “Do you want to be a Highwomen?” And I was like, “I’m releasing a record tomorrow but yeah! Sure,” I didn’t skip a beat.”  Hemby adds, “We got married first and then got to know each other.”

The all-female country supergroup synchronically blended their bona fide, harmonious vocals in “Redesigning Women” to kick off their performance. They sang about the expectations and double standards placed on women by society. When asked how many clichés did not make it into the song, Hemby responded with, “A lot. There’s thousands of them. I just wanted to pick the best universal ones, anything that has to do with shoes.”

“Redesigning Women” was then followed up by the powerhouses second debuted single from the highly anticipated self-titled album out on September 6th. “Crowded Table,” described by Hemby is a “song I wrote before I actually made the band, and I wrote it with my dear friend Lori McKenna. We wrote the song in about 30 minutes, and then I took the song to Brandi and she changed and made some things better. We wanted to write a song about women supporting women; people supporting people really.”

The girls continued their performance with other songs off of their up-and-coming album such as “Highwomen” which pays homage to The HighwayMen; an outlaw country supergroup of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. “Their band was a concept, it was more than just a combination of men. They were ghosts, if you will, reincarnated. They had died over the course of history and had met together on the astral plane, so that was very mystical and I loved that about them. But also, they’re the pillars of our community, they’re tireless activists, amazing fathers, husbands, and leaders, and we’re proud to be associated with them in any way,” Carlile confesses.  The performance finished up with “If She Ever Leaves Me” as Jason Isbell, a member of the backing band stated, “an openly gay song where the writer admits it’s a gay song,” and “My Only Child” a sentimental letter to a child who will forever be an only child.

Country music has been struck by a force of nature; The Highwomen and this is a movement that will make history.

To keep up with The Highwomen on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

“Redesigning Women” and “Crowded Table” are now available everywhere you buy or stream 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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Why Maren Morris’ “GIRL” Hitting The Number One Spot This Week Is So Important

Maren Morris Girl Number One

Justin Aharoni (@jaharoni) for NYCountry Swag

Many country fans who listen to the radio or stream their favorite songs may not understand how a song goes number one on the charts and their involvement in that process.  For example, in order for a song to hit the top of the charts, it has to be played across streaming and radio, A LOT. If you are listening to a song on the radio and don’t change the channel, that helps a song move up on the charts.  This week, Maren Morris has claimed the top spot on the country chart with the title track to her latest album, “GIRL”. This is only the second female artist this year to take the top spot on the charts, the last being Kelsea Ballerini with “Miss Me More” back in June. Prior to that, Ballerini topped the charts but back in February of 2018 with “Legends”. Three songs in a year and a half. “I don’t know what to say except thank you. I won’t even wipe my tears because I’m proud of them and what this song has done. @thehighwomen made their debut and GIRL is the number 1 song in the country. We did it.”



Songs like “Miss Me More” and “GIRL” being the two tracks to break through the macho-made glass ceiling says something about what women listening to country music want to hear. We are over listening to songs about girls getting ready for a date with their dream man or looking to get violent revenge on their cheating ex. With lyrics like “I forgot I had dreams, I forgot I had wings / Forgot who I was before I ever kissed you / Yeah, I thought I’d miss you, but I miss me more” and “Draw your comparisons, tryin’ to find who’s lesser than / I don’t wanna wear your crown, there’s enough to go around” Ballerini and Morris who were both co-writers on these smash hits are singing about loving themselves enough to introspectively stand up for themselves and other women. Morris opens her video for “GIRL” by saying “Um, I think it just comes down to, we don’t want more than anyone else, we want the same as everyone else”.

So why this piece now, when there is a number one song each week, why are we highlighting this week in particular? Well, besides showcasing the scarcity of females on the charts, we wanted to celebrate the fact that this past week, acclaimed and Grammy-nominated songwriter, Nicolle Galyon, announced a huge partnership with Big Loud Records to head an all-female label named Songs & Daughters. Galyon herself has hit the top spots on the charts with songs like “Tequila” for Dan + Shay and “Automatic” for Miranda Lambert.

Another incredible newsworthy item for females in this genre is The Highwomen making their debut. As if Morris didn’t have enough going on, she chose to join a band with Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby, record an entire album and release two of the songs this week and last. The supergroup’s name is a play on The Highwaymen which featured Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings. Their first two releases, “Redesigning Women” and “Crowded Table” are both anthems for women today, emphasizing inclusiveness and just how badass women are with lyrics like “A critical reason there’s a population / Raising our brows at a new generation / Rosie the Riveter with renovations / And always gets better with wine” and “I want a house with a crowded table / And a place by the fire for everyone / Let us take on the world while we’re young and able / And bring us back together when the day is done”. 


GIRL Ryan Hurd


If we can learn anything from “GIRL”, and the ladies in this music industry: There’s enough to go around and to continue to lift each other up, praise each other’s successes and hope that these little victories for women actually help to turn the tides in the right direction. Congratulations to Maren Morris on her number one!

For 6 rising female artists that we are loving and championing, click here.


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