Annie Up by Pistol Annies

If only every superstar band were as fulfilling as Pistol Annies. Formed in 2011 by Miranda Lambert and her buddies Angaleena Presley and the white-hot Ashley Monroe, the Annies were met with critical acclaim—despite little radio support.

The trio’s second album, Annie Up, (thankfully) picks up where their debut, Hell on Heels, left off, offering more engaging studies of real-life heartbreak, domestic inertia and the daily trials of womanhood.

Lead single “Hush Hush” seems like a pretty calculated attempt to get the band on radio, but the humorous story of a dysfunctional family trying to keep up appearances should ring true for anyone who’s ever had to hide a tattoo or booze bottle.

Appearances also figure into “Being Pretty Ain’t Pretty,” which tackles the unfair standards of beauty for women. Additionally, there’s a newfound aggressive edge in “I Feel a Sin Comin’ On” and “Unhappily Married,” both of which rev up to bashing, caveman-drummer choruses that complement the Annies’ perfect harmonies. 

On the other hand, “Workin’ Man” feels like a retread of Heels’ “Boys From the South,” pretty worn territory for such an accomplished group of songwriters.

But those missteps are few—especially when there is a tune like the devastating, Ashley-led “Blues You’re a Buzz Kill,” which doesn’t pull any punches about the self-destructive stuff some of us do to avoid feeling lousy. It’s a potent reminder of just how great the Annies are when they stick to their guns.

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