It wouldn’t be a Pistol Annies album without a little bit of gospel – though the surprise here, for a Christmas album, is perhaps that ‘Leanin’ on Jesus’ contains no references to the most wonderful time of the year. Instead, it offers a diversion into the purely devotional, avoiding any mention of snow, sleighs, or Santa Claus. The quiet whispers of people beneath the slowly rising instrumentation, at the song’s beginning, could be taken for the hushed chatter in the pews before the start of a church carol service. Beyond this, however, the focus is on the girls’ experience of being unburdened and unchained by their Saviour, in a general nod to Christian faith that has no particular seasonal affiliation to the rest of the album. Its ballad-like piano and simple drumbeat, followed by some fabulous electric organ after the second verse, is more akin to your standard gospel track. Its final change of pace, into the quick-fingered playing of keys, up-tempo beats, and a flurry of hallelujahs, is more readily associated with their last album and its title track, ‘Interstate Gospel’, than the festive feel on the remainder of this record. Take nothing away though from the Pistol Annies. ‘Leanin’ on Jesus’ is still a track worth savouring, marked by their usual foray into poignancy, this time with a reflective nod to the person who, for some, Christmas is all about.
Originally written as part of an ‘In the Round’ review for Belles & Gals, published on 28th October 2021.
Featured Image (C) Pistol Annies