Sierra Annie, a small-town Iowa girl turned Nashville contender, is at it again.
You may have heard her previously hitting hard against trash ex-boyfriends in "Famous" and "Roses," then taking a few shots at herself for her involvement with them in "Bad Habits." Now, she's trying her hand with slightly different subject matter. Keeping with her brusque country pop-punk style she's still putting out plenty of attitude, but this time with a focus on gratitude. This song places men as a footnote, and instead finds a place to focus on women. Ever autobiographical, this song, as the title suggests, is about Annie's mother.
Insistent guitar pounds while classic travelling country rock vocals put a story on the rails and the drums set it rolling. It's a pleasing ode to the maternal figures in our lives without the syruppy over-sentimentality that normally plagues songs like this. There's something empowering about giving moms a rock and roll song without patronizing them; telling their stories outside of tragedy and instead reflecting on their capability, tenacity, and strength of character. All of this is carried on a breezy chord progression, cheered on intermittently by the odd lick or smooth-toned solo. It's a strong assembly and an easy re-listen.
"I am a strong woman because strong women raised me" - Sierra Annie
There are hints of causticity in Annie's lyrics here, as if there is some regret underpinning what she's saying, but it's clearly directed inwardly. This speaks to the broader experience of being an adult and still having to contend with being someone's child. The recognition that the pangs of growing up didn't just affect you, they hit those around you as well; people who you realize gave more than they had to give; and not out of some sense of martyrdom or sacrifice, out of simple love.
As easy as it is to be angry and negative about the imperfections in ourselves and the world around us, we can't blame the people who did their best to shape us. As Annie points out, oftentimes they were giving us the space to shape ourselves. Looking back, we all see what we put our parents through. We can allow that knowledge to manifest as guilt, bound to our souls to weigh us down, or to set it free as gratitude. That's what "Mama" is: simple gratitude plus drums, guitar, and bass. A candid, non-hokey expression of love from child to parent. If you're making a Mother's Day playlist… you're welcome.