I want to take a brief sojourn from my tales of travel to alert y’all of some very important news today: The new album from The Highwomen is now available!
The evolution of this band has been an exciting addition to my year; news first broke in the spring, a single, the expertly-crafted “Redesigning Women,” arrived in July, and now – in September – we’ve got an entire album in our hands. It’s the fan’s ideal timeline for new music – and as an added bonus, it’s not some quickie pop-country surefire hit that’s been released a million times before. These are quality songs, sung by quality women, telling quality stories that frame an inspiring message that is SO needed in today’s world.
The Highwomen carry a certain impact for me because they are exactly what I was needing this year. As a writer, as a 20-something young woman, as a country fan, and as a wild woman, I’ve been craving music that reflects who I want to be. Do you ever hear a song that makes you want to BE that song? Not like, you wish you were the singer, or you wish they were singing your story, but like, you wish you were the drums, the guitar, the harmony, the attitude? That’s what I get from these songs – a camaraderie, a sisterhood, a feeling of being wrapped up in all of it.
Sure, many of the songs are actually sung in unison. Sure, they’re relatively simple. But think of how different that is from what’s playing on your local country station right now. By being “old school,” – and simply (sadly) by being women – this ensemble is unique and powerful.
Back in 1985, country megastars Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson joined forces as the mystical Highwaymen. They played the ghosts of four men: a robber, a sailor, a dam builder, and…someone who flies a starship. Their joining of forces only escalated and capitalized on their outlaw fame – they had experienced outstanding careers already.
But the Highwomen are founded on something different. While each of the members – Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby, and Maren Morris – has reached her own version of fame and success, this group was founded as a movement. A movement against the lack of support shown for female artists; a movement that encourages sisterhood, freedom of speech, and collaboration. Their rewritten version of “The Highwomen” tells the stories of a Honduran immigrant who dies guaranteeing her children a safe passage, a doctor convicted of witchcraft in Salem, a freedom rider who is shot for her protest (check out guest singer Yola, too), and a preacher.
You see, it’s not about getting high. It’s about going high.
Because when everyone’s trying to beat you down, to suppress your voice, to hold back your realm of possibility – you don’t go low. You go high. You become a Highwoman.
The only question that awaits is the one that’s been hanging over our heads for far too long: is anybody listening? Will the radio play? Or have these women embarked on a journey that’s preaching to the choir? I know I’m stoked about this project, but that’s because I was actively seeking it out. That’s because I already knew that I needed something like this in my life, that I needed songs and artists and heroines like this in my life.
What about the rest of the country music population? What about the program directors at the iHeartradio stations? What about the venues and the promoters and the charts and the awards shows that are meant to guarantee a project like this doesn’t go unnoticed?
Do me a favor, y’all. If you believe in women, give this album a listen. If you believe in equality, take some time to hear a track or two. If you believe in a future for country music that’s something more than a synthesized drum beat, please please please check out The Highwomen. And if you love it – figure out a way to BUY it. Because I want to see this creative energy result in something great. I want to see it make a change. It’s not about Brandi and Amanda and Natalie and Maren – it’s about all of us. It’s about dreams. And it’s about speaking our most honest truth, whenever and however we can.
Also Listening To:
Lizzo (that VMA performance like whaaa? I cried.)
Tanya Tucker’s While I’m Livin’ (also co-produced by Brandi, who is really brandishing her feminist sword on a slew of projects)
Miranda Lambert‘s new releases from her upcoming album, Wildcard (…but if she keeps releasing new songs every week, we’ll have nothing to look forward to in November! Boooo modern music industry trends)