Review: The Band Perry ~ Pioneer

Kimberly Perry onstage at Rupp Arena, opening for Rascal Flatts on Feb. 8, 2013. © Herald-Leader photo by Rich Copley.

Kimberly Perry onstage at Rupp Arena, opening for Rascal Flatts on Feb. 8, 2013. The Band Perry’s new album should launch the group to headliner status. © Herald-Leader photo by Rich Copley.

After two swings through Rupp Arena as a supporting act, The Band Perry seems destined to take over headlining duties. The group’s second album, Pioneer, is a prime vehicle to take it there with a dozen numbers that will play to big rooms just fine without betraying the trio’s string-band roots.

Folks who tuned into the Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday night saw that with the band’s performance of DONE, one of two fierce numbers that lead off the follow-up to the group’s self-titled debut.

Review - The Band Perry, PioneerThe first thing most people heard of The Band Perry was the wistful 2010 crossover hit If I Die Young, and we certainly get that sweet feeling on several new tracks, particularly Mother Like Mine, a lovely tribute from a sibling group. But The Band Perry has always wanted to rock and frontwoman Kimberly Perry has always had edge, which is what is really exploited on Pioneer. 

Better Dig Two, the opening track and lead-off single, is a fierce declaration of possibly ill-advised loyalty ’til death — “If divorce or death ever do us part, the coroner will call it a broken heart.” Other barn-burners include Chainsaw and Night Gone Wasted, and while the wah-wah guitar opening of I’m a Keeper might seem to indicate brothers Reid and Neil want to indulge the rock-star fantasies their haircuts betray, there are anchors like the steady plucking below the surface of DONE that anchor the band. There’s also Kimberly’s exasperated grunt at the end of the song that indicate this is not as tidy as the country pop we are used to.

Indeed, it did seem that The Band Perry may use a second album to veer off into a rootsier pose, at one point courting one-time Johnny Cash producer Rick Rubin. But they ended up engaging Dann Huff, architect of several of Rascal Flatts’ successes, as well as arena stars Reba McEntire, Celine Dion, and Michael Jackson.

The Band Perry may be a trio of kids, but they know exactly where they want to go, and that’s playing second fiddle to no one in arenas.

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