Ashley Monroe’s 2015 album The Blade is so steeped in heartache that it seems at times as if the Knoxville, Tennessee native much have bottomless reserves of the stuff at her disposal. The album’s title track is a fine example of that — a wounded lament to an ex-lover whose refusal to go all in afforded some protection against their painful separation.
During her gig at Nashville’s City Winery over the weekend, Monroe played the song and brought out Miranda Lambert — who sang background vocals on the studio recording — to perform with her.
“I just released a record this year called The Blade and we’re gonna do that song,” Monroe announces after some onstage chatter with her band. “And I’m gonna have the special guest vocalist that sang on the record with me sing it the first time live really ever. So, here’s little Miss Miranda Lambert.” The crowd responds with deafening applause.
A master class in restraint, the verse portions of “The Blade” play out patiently with Lambert adding in a harmony line here and there to complement Monroe’s Appalachian twang. The tune ramps up to full-bodied choruses that eventually reach — like the relationship it depicts — an uneasy resolution.
Longtime friends Monroe and Lambert have also been dropping hints about a reunion of Pistol Annies, the swaggering trio they formed with singer-songwriter Angaleena Presley. The three recently reunited during Miranda’s Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour to sing their songs “Hell on Heels” and “Hush Hush.”