With a mixture of sweet melodic harmonies and ample drama, sibling trio The Band Perry are set to release their highly-anticipated sophomore album, Pioneer, on April 2. Following up the Grammy-nominated group’s 2010 platinum selling debut, Pioneer preaches an independent spirit as the group continues their unique blend of country, bluegrass and ’70s-inspired rock.
Working for the first time with in-demand producer Dann Huff (Taylor Swift, Hunter Hayes), the Mississippi-raised group – consisting of Kimberly (lead vocals), Reid (bass) and Neil (mandolin) – build on the recipe that garnered high praise for songs like their 2011 CMA Single and Song of the Year, “If I Die Young.” Pioneer’s No. 1 hit lead single, “Better Dig Two,” is a murder ballad showcasing pretty, yet wickedly eerie, melodies amidst off kilter banjo and a power chord crunch. Kimberly’s signature voice, which can be as sweet as the girl next door or as fierce as a woman scorned, can manipulate dark lyrics into bright passages for exquisite depth. The stomp heavy story of a woman moving on, “Done,” pairs la-di-da’s next to biting lyrics like, I don’t believe in getting even but getting what you deserve. And on the clever, “Chainsaw,” a rollicking good time about chopping down the tree bearing a heart and a young couple’s initials, she delivers one of the album’s greatest lines, It’s hard to bury the hatchet holding a chainsaw, with a wonderful flair.
The Band Perry co-wrote nine of the album’s 12 songs, pairing up with emerging family act The Henningsens to pen six. Out of these collaborations came the album’s Appalachian-tinged title track, “Pioneer.” Celebrating the strength in those willing to follow the horizon, “Pioneer” fields some of the album’s finest sibling harmonies to complement the track’s acoustic purity. Independence is a recurring theme on the project, and songs like “I’m A Keeper” and “Back To Me Without You” (both written with The Henningsens) drive this home. The former is a soulful backbeat rocker shouting one’s self worth from the mountaintops while the latter is a transformative ballad keyed into regaining one’s self. Striking those hard to reach notes throughout the song, “Back To Me Without You” spins spellbinding and intricate harmonies before it races off with a fiddle solo. The Band Perry also paired with Brad Paisley to write the theatrical, ’70s punk-meets-musical, “Forever Mine Nevermind,” that features plenty of Brad’s guitar ripping runs and a storyline that accepts loss.
There are plenty of bittersweet moments on Pioneer, but interestingly, they often morph into uplifting narratives. “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” opens with introspective lyrics yearning to break free before turning into a powerful youth anthem. The musicianship is tight as it winds through passages leading to a strong gallop. “I Saw A Light” builds to a grand bridge after a soft start and “Night Gone Wasted,” The Band Perry’s version of a barn-burning Honky Tonk, lets the twang hang while righting wrongs and having fun, singing, I’m making up with my enemies and loving my best friends.
Constantly bursting with life, even slower songs like “Mother Like Mine” — a heartfelt ballad dedicated to their Mom — are alive with emotions that are easily felt. On “End Of Time,” a slightly distorted Americana-influenced song, the Southern imagery is deeply vivid and sung with such a rich voice that the words, The Alabama moon fell from the sky and the sweet tea wells ran dry, survive long past the song’s end. While celebrating life and an independent spirit, The Band Perry blazes their own trail on Pioneer with a strong and unique vision.
Key Tracks – “Better Dig Two,” “Chainsaw,” “End Of Time,” “Back To Me Without You”