Little Jane

REVIEW: Little Jane and the Pistol Whips “Long Road Ahead”


Little Jane and the Pistol Whips – Long Road Ahead

Ashly Holland – best known as Little Jane from Little Jane and the Pistol Whips — didn’t expect it to take 12 years for her group to make Long Road Ahead. But as indicated in the songs life is more about the journey than the destination. And the journey illustrated in this highly anticipated 12-song album takes the listener all around Montana, sharing the best elements of the Big Sky State, where the band has been cutting up a rug since the late 2000s.

Produced by Holland and Luke Scheeler (co-produced by Darryl Neudorf, mandolin virtuoso Tom Murphy and Pistol Whip guitarist Quinton King), and recorded at Base Camp Studio in Bozeman, Montana, Long Road Ahead features Holland on vocals and guitar, King on guitar, Murphy on mandolin, Scheeler on percussion, Russ Smith on upright bass, Ethan Decker on drums, Natalie Padilla on fiddle, Mike Singer on banjo, Cortney Peres on bowed upright bass, Julia Slovarp on cello, and a few others pitching in on sound effects and backing vocals. Long Road Ahead was a long time coming, and Holland and the band wanted it to be worth the wait. It is!

The album kicks off with “Keep It Simple,” a boot-stompin boogie that sets a scene while also showcasing masterful performances by Padilla and King, and Holland, whose voice is distinctive, low and Western without much twang. Her quality is country, largely in its delivery. She has a sound a little reminiscent of Loretta Lynn and those early Grand Ole Opry days, yet her voice is distinctly her own. “Keep It Simple” is the first of many upbeat honky tonk tunes that can’t help but make you move. It’s a fun song that knows what it is, and celebrates that old country sound, the one Holland admires and aspires to resurrect, which she does well. You know she’s having a good time doing it, too, as she laughs a few times on the track – a signature laugh you’ll hear on a few other tracks, as well. 

“The City” follows suit, transporting the listener to a Montana hoedown. while dishing out why Holland doesn’t need the city. She’s from a small town in the hills, and she knows what she likes: a good old honky tonk, and she pays tribute to her passion with honesty and authenticity. That’s what makes “The City” stand out. It captures the longing for that old traditional sound, and brings it back home. “Little Gold Heart” keeps this party going, this time giving Singer’s banjo the spotlight. 

But Long Road Ahead is no one-trick pony, as the sentimental title track is a beautiful slow dance. There’s also a lot of Western swing, a dying breed of a genre that Little Jane and the Pistol Whips breathe new life into on playful, tongue-in-cheek numbers “Call a Rat a Rat,” “Bumb-a-lee bee” and “Montana Can’t You See.”

But there’s no silliness on tunes such as “Untied,” a solemn song about heartbreak, and “moving on down the line.” “Lost to the Trade” is a dark ballad, and perhaps my favorite on the album, largely thanks to King’s haunting tone and riffs that complement the gunslinging narrative. It’s a cool ode to the wild west, with clever, effective percussion and sound effects by Scheeler on top of Decker’s smooth beat. I hope a Western picks this tune up for its soundtrack. That’s not a far cry, as Little Jane and the Pistol Whips have been featured on the ABC show “Big Sky.”

What stands out the most about Long Road Ahead is the good times that just keep rolling. “While You’re Out” is another boot-scootin’ celebration, and Holland again lets out her irresistible laugh. Like the other upbeat tracks on the album, this tune also features off-the-charts musicianship, featuring solos by Murphy on mandolin and Padilla on fiddle.

Releasing an album that’s twelve years in the making is an exhilarating feeling, and so many of the tracks second that emotion. The album is a barn dance all its own, and everyone’s invited, whether you are in Montana or elsewhere.

Highlights: “Keep It Simple, “Long Road Ahead,” “Lost to the Trade”

Long Road Ahead releases on Sept. 16 to all streaming services. To buy the album, and for more information on Little Jane and the Pistol Whips, go to

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