Song of the Day #1,174: ‘Hell on Heels’ – Pistol Annies

The album I’m most looking forward to this year is Miranda Lambert’s Four the Record, due out on November 1. I can’t name many up-and-coming artists whose music I enjoy as much as hers.

But Lambert has made the wait a lot easier by teaming up with a couple of songwriting buddies, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, to form Pistol Annies, a girl group in the old-school tradition. Their debut album, Hell on Heels, was released last month as a digital download and still managed to top the country charts and land at #5 on the overall Billboard chart.

As a result, Lambert is the first country artist in history to reach #1 both as a solo artist and as part of a group.

Pistol Annies is no supergroup. Monroe and Presley have some songwriting credits to their name but neither is an established performer. Lambert is the only star here, but she shares the spotlight with her band members, each of them carrying an equal share of the load.

Four of the album’s ten songs feature all three women on lead vocals, alternating verses as they do on the title track (today’s Song of the Day). Of the remaining six, Presley sings lead on three, Lambert on two and Monroe on one.

The recent trend in country music is for mixed gender groups (thank the success of Sugarland and Lady Antebellum) so this female trio feels like a throwback. And they sound like one, too, delivering a set of songs steeped in tradition. There’s nothing gimmicky here — it’s a songwriters’ album, crafted by songwriters who know and respect their genre.

It’s also a distinctly feminine album, with every track landing squarely in the world of women. In ‘Hell On Heels,’ the trio boasts about the trail of unfortunate men they’ve left in their wake. Presley’s haunting ‘Housewife’s Prayer,’ on the other hand, is sung from the perspective of a woman at the end of her rope:

I’ve been thinking about
Setting my house on fire
Can’t see a way out of the mess I’m in
And the bills keep getting higher
All I need is a match and a gallon of gas
God I’m getting tired
Gonna set this house on fire

Another of Presley’s contributions, ‘Lemon Drop,’ paints a portrait of a woman struggling to make ends meet. The clever opening image of a muffler tied on with a guitar string was pulled straight from her life. She has lived these songs, and recently. Must be strange to go from that to releasing a #1 album.

My muffler’s tied on with a guitar string
I owe seven thousand dollars to a bank machine
Before this car is ever really mine
And some fine day I’ll drive her downtown
Get a burger, fries and a Royal Crown
Thankin’ God that I’ll never
Have to pay another dime

Monroe’s one solo contribution, ‘Beige,’ is a delicate ballad about a pregnant woman getting married and feeling the judgmental eyes of the crowd that knows she “didn’t wait.”

Lambert shines on her two lead vocals, the sweet ode to Southern gentlemen ‘Boys From the South’ and the hilarious kiss-off track, ‘Trailer For Rent.’ The latter is my favorite moment on an album full of highlights.

As talented as Monroe and Presley are, I’m drawn to Lambert like a moth to a flame. Something chemical in my ear or brain makes her voice work magic on me. Take her verse of today’s song (starting with “I got a pink guitar”) — the whole track is terrific, moody fun but her segment blows the rest away.

Funny thing is, I could imagine somebody saying the same thing about either of the other two singers. It’s all about that personal connection that I’ve found is a key element in good country music.

For that reason, I’m still counting the days to November 1 and Lambert’s next solo album, but for now, Pistol Annies’ Hell On Heels is a hell of a good way to pass the time.

I’m hell on heels
Say what you will
I’ve done made the devil a deal
He made me pretty
He made me smart
And I’m going to break me a million hearts
I’m hell on heels, baby I’m comin’ for you

This diamond ring on my hand
Is the only good thing that came from that man
Got a GTO from one named Joe
And a big piece of land down in Mexico
I’m hell on heels, baby I’m comin’ for you

I got a pink guitar, a Lincoln Town Car
From ol’ what’s his name I met at a bar
Got a high-rise flat in Hollywood
From a married man who wasn’t up to no good
I’m hell on heels, baby I’m comin’ for you

Then there’s Jim, I almost forgot
I ran him off, but I took the yacht
Poor ol’ Billy, bless his heart
I’m still using his credit card
I’m hell on heels, Sugar Daddy I’m comin’ for you

I’m hell on heels, say what you will
I’ve done made the devil a deal
He made me pretty
He made me smart
And I’m gonna break me a million hearts
I’m hell on heels baby I’m comin’ for you

I’m hell on heels, say what you will
I’ve done made the devil a deal
He made me pretty
He made me smart
I’m gonna break me a million hearts
I’m hell on heels, Sugar Daddy I’m comin’ for you

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4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,174: ‘Hell on Heels’ – Pistol Annies

  1. Dana says:

    Really good song. Sounds a bit like a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Fleetwood Mac, but with a country twist.

  2. Clay says:

    Good call on the Fleetwood Mac… I totally hear that now that you mention it.

  3. Amy says:

    Love this song! This makes me want to run out and buy the album. This is one of those songs (and maybe albums?) I could immediately see going into a constant rotation. Thanks for the introduction.

  4. pegclifton says:

    This is a fun song, love the lyrics!

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