Melissa Maerz
April 10, 2013 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Pioneer

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
music label
81177
genre
Country

We gave it a B

Mama always told me that I should play nice,” Kimberly Perry coos on the Band Perry’s new single ”Done.” Well, she couldn’t play nicer if she were a golden-retriever puppy. Her wildest moments on the sibling trio’s 2010 debut involved hand-holding and Ferris-wheel riding. Their smash ”If I Die Young” might’ve sounded gothic, but it was actually sweet, with Kimberly insisting that she’ll wear white in heaven because ”I’ve never known the loving of a man.” The songs were all temptation-tested, Mama-approved.

So it’s fun to hear her get those linens dirty on Pioneer: The banjo-plucking hit ”Better Dig Two” even finds her trading in her wedding whites for a hangman’s noose. Not only did Kimberly and her brothers, Neil and Reid, prove they’re tougher than they sound by parting ways with the album’s original producer, Rick Rubin — his replacement, Dann Huff, preserves their homegrown twang nicely, nixing the boring pop-crossover vibe that plagues so much mainstream country — but Kimberly’s all fired up, too. She’ll win points with Leatherface for the fiddle-shredding ”Chainsaw,” and she slugs some guy in the nose on the fun, glam-rock-inspired ”Forever Mine Nevermind.” When she does play nice, she’s a bit self-righteous; check the faith-reaffirming ”I Saw a Light” and the braggy ”Mother Like Mine.” But when she’s bad, she’s better. On the outcast-pride anthem ”I’m a Keeper,” this good girl wants to ”buy a sword…cut my hair and change my name to Cherry.” It’s all right, Ma — she’s only kidding. But it would sure be cool if she did. B

Best Tracks
”Better Dig Two”

A bluegrass-fueled murder-suicide

”Forever Mine Nevermind”

A Queen-gone-country sing-along

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