“We all have something to say as individual women and as individual artists,” Miranda Lambert said of herself, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. “You put all three opinions together and all three lifestyles and what we’ve all been through, and it just felt like that we were saying something that most people think and don’t actually say. I’m like that in my solo career. I take risks and I’m honest in my music and we just carried it out with this Pistol Annies project.”
“All three of us have different influences, but they all three have the same characteristic—honesty,” Monroe added. “Miranda loves Merle (Haggard). I love Dolly and Angaleena loves Loretta. We’re all very much inspired by the three of them. If you go back and listen to their records, you can relate to what they’re talking about.”
Although record companies sometimes encourage artists into collaborations that look commercially promising, that was not the case with The Pistol Annies. “Miranda and I have known each other for seven years,” said Monroe. “One night we were at her house and I asked if she’d ever heard of Angaleena Presley. I’d written with her a few times in Nashville. She said she hadn’t, so I went and got my computer and started playing her some stuff. She flipped out. She said, ‘That’s the girl! That’s our missing link!’ It fell together as easy as that.”
Presley said the collaboration felt natural from the beginning. “We sat down and wrote these songs and we didn’t overthink it,” she said. “We didn’t have any method to the madness. It’s just songs from three different girls’ perspectives and I guess a lot of people can relate to it.”
“The chemistry was there from the very beginning,” Monroe added. “We just started writing songs. We just sat down and were inspired. That’s how it happened. We weren’t trying for anything. We were just looking to write real songs about real things.”
The Pistol Annies’ album, Hell on Heels, was released in August, two months ahead of Lambert’s fourth album, Four the Record. When asked if she was concerned about how their debut might affect her latest solo outing, Lambert responded, “That did cross my mind, but I thought if it (Pistol Annies) was that organic and felt that right, then it had to be right. The music came so easily to us three, and the chemistry that we had made me realize that I needed to put my hesitation aside and let the music lead and just see what happens.”
The title track, “Hell on Heels,” written by the trio, captures their feisty spirit. “It just felt like that was, in a nutshell, what we’re about. It’s a catchy title and catchy phrase,” said Lambert. “It makes people go, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ I just feel like it encompasses everything that The Pistol Annies are.”
The album also includes more somber fare such as “Housewife’s Prayer,” which Presley began writing when she was going through a divorce. “I was real broke, real depressed, desperate and didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said. “I thought about burning my house down, taking the money, getting me and my little boy an apartment and having a new start. But instead of doing that, I picked up my guitar and started writing a song about it. I played it for the girls and they helped me finish it.
“I like ‘Housewife’s Prayer,’” Presley continued, “because it represents a time in my life that was one of the hardest times I ever had and it reminds me that I had the strength to get through it. It reminds me to make better choices and not go back.”
“Lemon Drop” is also a slice of Presley’s life. “That’s a true story,” said Presley. “I was going home to Kentucky and my car broke down. I pulled over and saw my muffler had come halfway off. So I opened the trunk of my car, clipped a guitar string off, tied it on, drove on home and then drove back to Nashville. I drove around a while with my muffler tied up with a guitar string, so that’s where that idea came from. That whole song is what my life was then, trying to make it, struggling and keeping the faith.”
“Boys from the South” originated with Lambert. “I was driving home from the airport real late one night, trying to keep myself awake,” Lambert recalls. “I was going from Texas to Oklahoma and I was thinking, ‘Man, I love where I live, going home to Blake, my cute Southern boy waiting at home on me.’ I just thought it would be a cute song.”
At press time, Monroe was working on her Warner Bros. debut and Presley was looking for a deal. “I’ve been in Nashville eight years and I don’t know how many times I’ve been told I’m too country for Country,” she said. “I did one record with (producers) Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke. People loved it, but people were scared of it. We’re still shopping it, but I have complete faith that we’ll get it out there. If you liked The Pistol Annies, you’re gonna like Angaleena Presley. I hope that The Pistol Annies sets a precedent for me and Ashley and every other artist who is writing songs from their heart and can’t find a place for them.”
All three women agree that they plan to make music as The Pistol Annies for a long time. “One of our goals is for each of us to have our own tours and to stop every month and do a Pistol Annies reunion,” said Lambert. “We’re hoping to be making music together until we can’t sing no more.”
© 2011 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.