Little Jane and the Pistol Whips | This Town

Published: August 31, 2011


Livingston guitarist and songstress Ashly Jane Holland and the fellas, the Pistol Whips, have put out their first CD, replete with 14, count 'em, original tunes by the songwriter.

The Whips are excellent pickers all: Quinton King, lead guitar, Paul Decker, drums, and Russ Smith, stand-up bass and background vocals. Added instrumentation is provided by other stellar talent, including Tom Murphy on mandolin and Tom Day on pedal steel.

Holland possesses a throwback voice to the days of unadulterated country, a milieu that's all sliced up now into a bunch of categories. Hers is a trilly, earthy sound, that, coupled with the range of emotion she expresses on her well-written sagas, makes her one of the most authentic singers around.

Suffice it to say she'd be at home in Butcher Holler with Loretta Lynn; check out the waltz, "Death of Me," and its killer opening line. And indeed Holland credits Lynn as an influence.

Or how about in Tennessee with Dolly? Holland's country warble has Parton's inflections at times. She could go farther back than that if she wanted. Folk artist Gillian Welch is a modern influence for the singer.

I'm also hearing her channel swamp-blues chanteuse Marcia Ball on the toe-tappin' country rocker, "Wanna Go Too Fast.” Preston White pounds the piano keys ala Marcia in a song that’s guaranteed to drive everybody to the dance floor. Cool!

The galloping title tune follows, featuring King's smokin' guitar intro; and nice piano and pedal steel underlie "Go to the Bottle," with its western feel and lonely lyrics.

I hear shades of Mary McCaslin's songwriting style on the cantering loper, "All I Need to Know," and perhaps a Rosanne Cash vocal nuance.

Holland pours on the attitude in the hip-shakin' rocker, "Room to Roam." Squiggly guitar here from King.

She plays gobs of double-stops on fiddle in "No Room," and shines on the threadbare ballad, "Hey Lord." The finale, "Let Me Pretend," is a pretty heartbreaker.

Great production from the Grammy-winning Doc Wiley, and fine musicianship here. It's a terrific first effort, and although Holland pushes her voice at times, she's strong enough to pull it off.

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– Mariss McTucker

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