- 17 Sep 19
Highwaymen get their comeuppance
The Highwomen's claim that country music is a man's world might explain why it's taken so long for a female answer to The Highwaymen - macho "outlaw" acts Cash, Jennings, Nelson and Kristofferson - to emerge. But this quartet of Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby boast just as much musical muscle. Their vocals throughout are spot-on, with the harmonies reaching parts many don't. They've also got shining guitar sounds and solid country-rock beats in there too. In addition, the women feature heavily on the album's writing credits, as they confront social issues head-on.
Their anthemic 'Highwomen' is a gender-adjusted rewrite of Jimmy Webb's 'The Highwayman', with more realistic, female-centric lyrics. Hemby's 'Redesigning Women' is a smouldering country-blues effort packing a message - and a little humour - while three of them deliver on the snappy 'My Name Can't Be Mama'. The theme of telling guys where to get off comes up on Shires' co-write 'Don't Call Me' and again on Morris' 'Loose Change', and yet again on the gay honky-tonk tune 'If She Ever Leaves Me'.
Tissue time comes around with 'My Only Child' and Shires' delicious sighing fiddle, although 'Old Soul' and 'Cocktail And A Song' are both bog-standard, AOR-country filler.
Making predictions about music is for mugs, but it's hard to imagine this project not becoming a monster success, and deservedly so. Yet - despite the astringent lyrics putting ordinary guys back in their box - their racist, misogynist, sexually-assaulting, lying bully of a President escapes unscathed! Meantime, this album could really be the start of somethin'.