“Pistol Annies is throwback Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette country. It’s all real and honest. And the girls and I, we really take pride in being old-fashioned country.” miranda lambert
Miranda Lambert’s four albums, including last year’s Four The Record, all reached No. 1 on Billboard’s county chart. Three of those albums also debuted in the all-genre Billboard 200 Top 10. Lambert also placed six songs in Billboard’s country singles Top 10.
Two years ago, in the midst of a red-hot solo career, the 28-year-old singing star formed a trio with singer-songwriters Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. Writing and singing songs that evoke classic country ladies Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, they named themselves Pistol Annies.
“Me and the girls have such a good thing together,” Lambert said last week from Cincinnati, Ohio, one of her On Fire tour dates. “It wasn’t a choice. I had to do it because it’s so good.”
Lambert brings Pistol Annies on the road with her, integrating the trio into her solo shows.
“It hasn’t been that much of a stress on me because I already have buses and trucks,” she said. “And it’s so much fun, like bringing your friends on stage.”
Audiences love the Annies.
“You can’t imagine the noise when the girls come out,” Lambert said. “Last night in Columbus it was deafening. It’s so cool to see that because, when we first started, people were like, ‘What is this? What’s going on?’ But now it just erupts.”
Pistol Annies’ debut album, Hell On Heels, appeared in September. Another No. 1 album for Lambert, she found its success especially gratifying.
“It’s my baby,” she said of the trio. “It’s like I’m reliving everything I experienced when I was first getting started through the Annies, like hearing yourself on the radio.”
Lambert and Monroe met when they were teenagers signed to Sony Music Nashville.
“Of course, I was reluctant to be friends with her because she was another blonde on my label,” Lambert recalled. “But I listened to her record and it blew me away. She’s so great. So this crazy friendship started. It’s fun to be best friends with someone you also share a passion with.”
Monroe introduced Lambert to Presley’s music two years ago.
“It sparked something inside me,” Lambert remembered. “So we called Angaleena and said, ‘You wanna be in a girl band?’ It was like a couch dream, a last-minute decision. Then we met and, the first week, we wrote a bunch of songs together. It was meant to be.
“In a way, it’s a marriage,” added Lambert, whose real-life husband is country star and The Voice judge Blake Shelton. “We write together, we do everything together. It’s cool. Girls don’t get along all the time but, if there is a fight, it’s usually two in a fight and one of us as a mediator.”
Stylistically, Lambert’s solo material and Pistol Annies’ music are two different things.
“My music has a lot of rock edge to it, this Southern rock side,” she said. “Pistol Annies is throwback Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette country.”
But Lambert’s solo songs and the music of Pistol Annies share an essential trait.
“It’s all real and honest,” she said. “And the girls and I, we really take pride in being old-fashioned country.”
The songs of Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, David Allan Coe and their peers — classic country introduced to her by her country-musician dad back in Lindale, Texas — are Lambert’s musical foundation.
“That’s my roots and I love it,” she said.
And Merle Haggard is her No. 1 country-music hero.
“He’s the reason that I do what I do. He set up the stage for that singing-about-what-you-live kind of music. It’s so cool that he started that tradition for artists like me and the Annies.”