Pistol Annies have Sia to thank for their new Christmas album “Hell Of A Holiday.”
Comprised of Ashley Monroe, Angaleena Presley, and Miranda Lambert – two-thirds of Pistol Annies love Christmas music.
Lambert does not.
Over the years, Presley and Monroe tried to cajole Lambert into recording a holiday collection with no luck.
Specifically, Lambert explained to People that she doesn’t like overplayed holiday songs. She couldn’t wrap her head around how to record the album differently, so she didn’t even want to try. Then, she heard Sia’s “Everyday Is Christmas,” and she felt her heart open.
“It was fresh,” Lambert told People. “I think I just get tired of the same old things and hearing the same Christmas songs over and over. That one is like, ’Oh, fresh and (it’s) originals. It opened my heart a little bit to it.”
“Hell Of A Holiday” is out now. Home to 10 original holiday songs and three covers, the album combines the trio’s harmonies, songwriting wit, and penchant for storytelling into a twinkling instant holiday classic for country music fans.
“I love all the beautiful records, but I love a good real jab at what really goes on in a family,” Lambert said. “We got to do that on this, too. It’s got a tinge of realness and weirdness that you don’t get on a lot of holiday albums.”
“Harlan County Coal” is a guitar extravaganza about an alcoholic, deadbeat spouse. “Believing” is the other side of the coin. The women say the heartfelt, festive ballad about preserving the magic of Christmas is their favorite song on the album.
“I have like a hundred nieces and nephews, and that’s the one they all responded to the most,” Presley said. “In fact, my little cousin, Charlie, shed a tear, and he’s on a naughty list just about every year.”
As for cover songs, the women selected “Auld Lang Syne,” “Sleigh Ride,” and Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December,” which was the source of more stress than festive feelings when they started recording it.
Presley told People it was like “nails on a chalkboard” the first few times they tried it. Eventually, they discovered the conflict was that they were accidentally recording the song the same way as Haggard. They unceremoniously tossed their first effort to try it a different way when they figured it out.
“Miranda just started doing that bluesy thing,” Presley said. “That hit us hard. We didn’t know what was wrong until we found the right way. And we were like, ’Oh, this sounds like Annie’s now.’”
“Sleigh Ride” was a similar process. They used The Ronettes version for inspiration, but they also wanted to add their special Annies’ touches.
“Like a thousand modulations later, we like, ’Oh my gosh,’” Monroe said. “We feel like we made it our own, but it’s not overdone.”
Now that it’s finished and in stores, Pistol Annies members just hope people love it enough to make their Christmas songs part of their holiday celebrations every year.
“I want them to say, ’Damn, that was good,’” Presley said.