mon 23/05/2022

Album: Pistol Annies - Hell of a Holiday | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Pistol Annies - Hell of a Holiday

Album: Pistol Annies - Hell of a Holiday

A lively and quick-witted country Christmas outing from Nashville

Pistol Annies take it to church

“It was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was sober, especially my spouse.” So runs the giggly spoken word opening line of “Harlan County Coal”, the third song on Hell of a Holiday by American country trio Pistol Annies.

A semi-rock number, it insists the titular lump of combustible sedimentary rock is what the man in each of their lives will receive if he doesn’t straighten up his act.

This cheerfully sassy woman-powered attitude permeates the album… well, the parts that aren’t Jesus-lovin’ or simply old fashioned Christmas cheese.

Pistol Annies are big in the States. One of them, Miranda Lambert, already had a steady country career before they formed a decade ago, while the other two, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, have developed theirs since. They come across like a harmony-powered girl gang casting an often witty eye on the Winter holidays, especially on the Americana shuffle of the title track which wryly comments, “The whole world is decorating and it’s only November one.”

Of the overtly Christian material, “Leanin’ on Jesus” has winning sunlight harmonies, whatever the listener’s religious beliefs. Another one, “Happy Birthday” (to Jesus) may be the album’s standout track, drawing attention to the way Christmas can wear people down, especially the head woman of a household. Catchily strummed, it contains some great lines including “I’m wiping the dust off the mantel/I’m stuffing stockings with junk… it’s Christmas Eve and I’m done.”

Of course, there’s also plenty for those who just want to turn their brain off for a Yuletide frolic, from the Pistol Annie-penned “Snow Globe” and slowie “Come on Christmas Time” (“I’ve got a crush on Santa/I want to ring his bell”!) to an obligatory run through The Ronettes’ Phil Spector classic “Sleigh Ride” and a concluding acapella “Auld Lang Syne”, ripe for New Year’s Eve. As Christmas albums go, it may not be one that will become essential but it’s certainly worth a dip.

Below: watch Pistol Annies perform "Hell of a Holiday" on The Tonight Show

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