Country Stars taking part in Musical Chairs

On “It Ain’t Pretty,” from the new woman nonmodern album “Golden,” mountaineer Scott starts out expectant, sweating and anxious. Her relationship is over. She’s alone, lonely, longing for arms to disappear into, speculative if that’s even O.K. to want. “I place my lipstick on alittle too bright/ Then I took a deep breath and commenced to drive,” she sings. She heads to a bar and makes a alternative. “I simply kissed a boy and that i barely even knew his name/I let him take Pine Tree State by the hand, pull Pine Tree State shut whereas our recent song compete.”

By woman nonmodern standards — high radiance, broad-stroke feeling — this is often much a piece Annies song, however if it were so a piece Annies song, the protagonist wouldn’t be burdened with regret.

As it happens, lipstick additionally figures into a song on “Annie Up” (RCA Nashville), the new piece Annies album. In “Being Pretty Ain’t Pretty,” Angaleena Presley, one in all the group’s 3 members, sings deplorably regarding the wages of beauty: “The red on my nails keeps chippin’ off/The pink on my lips simply adds to the issues.” Her mother, she goes on to sing, didn’t want all that, and her father likable her simply fine that manner.

Both teams square measure off their marks on these new albums, partially as a result of every is creep within the direction of the opposite, driven by the stress of the genre, or by the perceived must fill holes that aren’t there. On “Golden” (Capitol Nashville), woman nonmodern has wiped off a number of its polish — not plenty, however some — and allowed a number of its edges to change surface, whereas “Annie Up” shows piece Annies’s temperament to sand down its idiosyncrasies within the service of accessibility.

Unsurprisingly, woman nonmodern and piece Annies represent polar ideas of what trendy country and western will be. for girl nonmodern, country is melodramatic pop jam-packed with sweet harmonies and guitars therefore full they much soften. For piece Annies, it’s a group of recent traditions and modes to breathe new life into. woman nonmodern is that the drawback piece Annies is seemingly making an attempt to unravel.

Both have had high points. In 2011, woman nonmodern — Ms. Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave William Dudley Haywood — free “Own the Night,” its third album and also the peak of its swish country, taking the dynamics of Nineteen Seventies soft-rock and inserting them in an exceedingly trendy, rural context. that very same year, piece Annies — Ms. Presley, Ashley Monroe and well-known banger Miranda Lambert — free “Hell on Heels,” its debut, that was a implike, no-fi statement of purpose from the new wave of feminine outlaws.

Neither has broken its sound unduly, and neither would be mistaken for the opposite. Still, it’s surprising to listen to woman nonmodern sound because it will on the title track, that verges toward pure folks, prettied up solely by adult male. Kelley’s seamless soul sing, or on “Downtown,” a rather negligible song regarding late-night partying that sounds additional just like the loose records created by very little huge city, the cluster that’s lived in woman Antebellum’s shadow the previous few years.

That said, woman nonmodern remains enthusiastic about grand gestures, even the vacuous ones just like the one on the amiable Zac Brown Band-esque “Generation Away,” within which adult male. Kelley and Ms. Scott sing, “If i used to be a reverend, I’d wanna be Dr. King/Oh i do know he’s up there smiling down cause we tend to all still have a dream.”

Pistol Annies, by comparison, remains committed to the small on “Annie Up,” that is crisp and perhaps alittle bloodless, because of too-smooth production. The lyrics, though, still seethe. “Hush Hush” is regarding putt up a mask to cover behind: “Put on your Sunday best/Pretend you’re not a mess/Be the happy family within the front church bench.”

As usual, addiction could be a terrific muse. On “Blues, You’re a Buzzkill,” Ms. Monroe is simply one long sigh: “You progress on my pain pills/Jack Daniels can’t swallow you whole/Hey blues, you’re a troublesome act to follow.”

Two years agone, piece Annies’s songs appeared like the gap shots of warfare on country’s clear masculinity, however within the wake of Ms. Monroe’s glorious solo album, “Like a Rose,” and Kacey Musgraves’ nice album, “Same Trailer completely different Park,” the work of piece Annies feels less essential. the tiny revolution it had been making an attempt to foment is upon North American nation.

But perhaps there’s a extended con at play. one in all the loudest variations between piece Annies and woman nonmodern is in who’s having the conversations. In woman nonmodern, generally Ms. Scott and adult male. Kelley portray lovers heading toward a resolution, whether or not friendly or otherwise. You hear each side and, additional usually than not, root for closure. In piece Annies, once there’s a speech, it’s between girls, a fencing of sisterhood, like on “Don’t remark Him, Tina,” within which Ms. Lambert tells her friend to embolden within the face of a no-good heartbreaker: “Best issue he ever did was leave ‘ya.”

This is regarding disruption of the established order, assaulting the politeness that comes with ligature a knot tight. If woman nonmodern starts learning the way to leave things unresolved, that may be the $64000 piece Annies revolution.

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