The Band Perry ‘Pioneer' (Republic Nashville)
The Band Perry boldly plants its flag as one of the most electrifying and entertaining country bands in recent memory with its decidedly slump-free sophomore album, “Pioneer.”
The sibling trio — Kimberly Perry (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Reid Perry (bass, vocals) and Neil Perry (mandolin, drums, accordion, vocals) — stakes its claim in an unusual sweet spot where traditional and contemporary country intersect with classic rock and bluegrass with its second album, which had them working for the first time with in-demand producer Dann Huff (Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts).
“Better Dig Two,” the chart-topping leadoff single, opens the album with the Mississippi natives' tuneful banjo- and fiddle-shrouded take on a classic country trope: the murder ballad. The cleverly worded woman-scorned rocker “Chainsaw” fires up the fiddles, while the glammed-up kiss-off anthem, “Forever Mine Nevermind,” which Reid and Kimberly Perry co-wrote with Brad Paisley, who supplies his signature scorching guitar work, plays like a countrified tribute to Queen.
Kimberly firmly takes her place as one of country's premier young frontwomen with “Pioneer,” which last week debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and at No. 2 on the all-genre Billboard 200 list. Her husky powerhouse voice shifts from tough to tender with surprising speed: She's all fury and feistiness on the rising top 10 single “Done,” which her brothers penned with Jacob Bryant, and she channels heart-tugging sincerity into the sweet high notes of “Mother Like Mine.”
The trio reunited with fellow family act The Henningsens to cowrite half of the album's 12 tracks, including the soaring love-at-first-sight ballad “I Saw a Light,” the boogie-woogie empowerment anthem “I'm a Keeper,” and the music-box-pretty ode “Back to Me Without You,” which showcases the Perrys' super-tight harmonies. The two sibling groups also collaborated on the uplifting and defiant title track, in which Kimberly Perry fiercely declares “I won't hush, no you can't make me/I won't hush, no, we will sing.” By all means, sing on.
— Brandy McDonnell