Pistol Annies album ‘The Christmas Project’ comes with an explanation

Written by CNN Staff, Contributors Rap trio Pistol Annies — Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley — return with a holiday album ‘The Christmas Project’ The ‘2017 Year in Music’ winner says the record is more current than fans think

This is the era of the singer-songwriter, when an honest collab comes with an explanation. Better to launch a second album while promoting “Tomboy,” then crank out another one soon after (“A Sailor’s Guide to Earth”) than let listeners wonder if they should have waited (and paid) up front (“Tennessee Whiskey”).

“You want to let the album speak for itself and not have to explain to people what it’s about,” Lambert says. “For me, it’s not so much me as an artist as it is the three of us, and so we wanted to highlight what we were doing. . . . People will be surprised by what they hear, but they’re not gonna be surprised by what they don’t hear.

CNN’s Chelsea Fletcher sits down with Pistol Annies to discuss their ‘2017 Year in Music’ win, new album and promise of a new album by Christmas. Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Records

“You really can’t do too much to make them think it’s all sentimental nostalgia and stuff like that. There’s some soul music sprinkled in there, but you won’t hear ballads or a lot of Americana. That’s not our vibe. And my voice doesn’t sound like Hillary and Miranda, so that’s all I would have to add to kind of justify something sentimental.”

To that end, the trio has crafted a new record — “The Christmas Project” — that aims to meet the nation’s desire for clear-eyed country music through specific a genre. The album is a songbook for gals, with funny breakup stories, heartfelt soulful confessions, and defiant declarations: “Sometimes you gotta be strong / You can’t do the dirty alone / No matter how long you’ve been together.”

Lambert says the ladies wanted to keep the record fresh in a year where the three groups that released chart-topping holiday albums — Jackson Browne and Norah Jones’ “Wild Gift,” Lorde’s “Melodrama” and Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” — have hit a defining point in their careers. This season also saw the end of women-free guitar music at country radio. (Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus responded in a HuffPost interview this month: “That’s bulls—.”)

CNN’s Chelsea Fletcher sits down with Pistol Annies to discuss their ‘2017 Year in Music’ win, new album and promise of a new album by Christmas. Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Records

“If you look at the last 20 years of country music and the amount of airplay — the amount of revenue — going to women, it’s tiny,” Lambert says. “That’s why people don’t get to hear the true side of our songs. That’s what people want to hear is what’s current. When you’re younger, it’s tough to grow, so the songs have to be current.”

The women, who’ve been tourmates in the past and remain good friends, say the project was a cathartic experience, musically and emotionally.

“There are some songs on there that are heavy, but that was a fun, light-hearted catharsis. . . . It was definitely a way to really release all of this uncertainty that we’ve been battling for the past couple of years,” Lambert says.

With the release date fast approaching, the trio remain focused on the outside aspects of the record, and not so much on what it means to them as a record for the listener.

The ladies say they have always been an ‘awwwz’ band, and have grown through friendship. Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Records

“We’re a family. We’re so fussed-over. We’re so playful. We’re just all like, ‘We’re weird’ and this, that and the other,” Lambert says. “There’s just so much laughing and giggling and playing, and people don’t get to see that. That’s why the record is gonna be hard to put down. There’s a release that people will feel.

“If they listen closely, they’ll definitely hear some of that.”

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