“You Lie” is a sturdy, acoustic number that confidently and aggressively addresses an unfaithful man. The attitude is at the strongest when she suggests killing him and doing the whole world a service. Now, that’s harsh. What makes the song work even better is the high attention to detail: she doesn’t just fling his ring off a bridge, she explicitly tells how she drives to the middle of a mile-long bridge, then flings the ring off and says that it’ll stay there until the Second Coming.
The album’s first singles are in the second and third slots on the album. “Hip to My Heart” was a solid enough choice for a first single. Although Kimberly oversings just a little at points, the song is still bursting with energy and highly original lyrics (“I like your lips like I like my Coca-Cola / Oh, how it pops and fizzes”), not to mention a delightfully uncluttered banjo-and-mandolin backing. As I mentioned in the intro, “If I Die Young” is just about a total 180° from that song. Here, Kimberly (who wrote the song herself) ponders her own mortality in surprisingly clear-eyed detail that almost perfectly paints all the uncertainties of young-adulthood and how others would feel if she indeed died young. This song has obviously resonated well at radio; it debuted the same week that “Hip to My Heart” fell from the charts, and is already a gold single. Don’t be surprised if it ends up a dark horse #1 hit. A bouncy melody drives the sweet “All Your Life,” which uses slightly off-center imagery such as sand in one’s hands and firefly lamps to illustrate how she doesn’t want anything other than “to be the only girl you love all your life.” It also offers an interesting look into the obsessive nature of her love with a lyric about singing desperate love songs to the wall.
With allusions to Adam and Eve and a Joey + Rory-esque reference to “that floozy”, the rocking “Miss You Being Gone” hangs on a delightfully simple idea: she misses him like drama queen and catfights, and of course, she misses him being gone when he comes back. This song really captures the listener’s attention with its crunchy guitar riff that contrasts with the mostly acoustic numbers before it. Followup “Double Heart” also lays on the guitars and backing vocals rather thickly, as well as a nifty bass riff. It’s a bit tough to make out the lyrics through Kimberly’s higher range, but the song uses its observation of a new tattoo (“first comes the ink, then comes the ring”) as a reminder of a love — she warns that if he leaves her, she’ll still be there on his arm. For a little less tempo, the mellow “Postcard from Paris” offers another observation on boyfriends, if a bit tangled.
“Walk Me Down the Middle” also seems a bit Taylor Swift-esque with her request for him to walk her down the middle of the county fair (then Main Street) and let everyone know she belongs to him. It leads to the obvious enough closer where they walk down the middle of the church, but at the same time, it’s sweetly melodic and well-sung. “Independence” offers one of the countriest melodies on the album, as well as one of the best hooks — the road is pulling Independence out of her, both the name of the town and the noun. It’s also one of the best songs in recent memory to focus on the yearning to leave a town.
“Quittin’ You” and “Lasso” close off the album. The former is a simple enough number about, well, kicking her lover like a bad habit. But yet again, the unusual lyrics (has anyone else used “cold turkey” or “off like a Band-Aid” before?) are what make it not just another run-of-the-mill song. The latter is a soft, mellow, organ-heavy ballad that uses the strange simile of a lasso around a tornado to describe the way she felt falling in love with him. With stronger metaphors and similes throughout the song, the song probably would’ve been better titled “You Can’t Blame a Girl for Tryin’.” Not that it’s by any means bad; indeed, except for the ill-fitting title, it’s as strong as any song on the album.
Although Kimberly, who seems to be the main songwriter, has a solid command of the language, she sometimes falls into a Clint Black-esque trap of getting so wrapped up in the turns of phrase that the storyline gets a little ensnarled; however, even when these pitfalls occur, the songwriting is still quite impressive. The songs are vaguely reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s exuberance, lyrical detail and boy-craziness, not to mention her way with a catchy melody. What sets The Band Perry apart, though, is Kimberly’s sweet voice, akin to a slightly higher Amanda Wilkinson (really, it’d make perfect sense if The Band Perry covered “26 Cents” and/or “Fly (The Angel Song)”). Her voice is also matched perfectly to an uncluttered, mostly acoustic production that’s clean without being slick. With a rapidly-building fanbase, a hot single scaling the charts, and a tight level of songwriting and musicianship, The Band Perry is sure to take off with its first album.
If you prefer your music to be more than ones and zeroes, the CD is also available at Amazon.