When you’re declared Group of the Year at Canada’s biggest country music awards show, that’s major validation from a community with high standards. Ontario’s Small Town Pistols won the CCMA title in 2014 after the brother and sister reunited for their 2013 self-titled debut.
Now Amanda and Tyler Wilkinson — formerly of country trio The Wilkinsons — are back with the follow-up, Pistology, an album that is personal and sometimes edgy, covering everything from parenthood and family values to vices and rivals. There’s even a fictitious song about murder.
“Tyler and I learned the craft of songwriting through my dad, but in Small Town Pistols we are grown-up, able to say things that we couldn’t say in the Wilkinsons’ songs because our dad was there,” says Amanda.
While both Tyler and Amanda are in solid marriages with babies, this sibling duo isn’t all white picket fences and PG conversation. They are quick-witted and speak their minds as people, and in their songwriting are raw and real — note the smoky western crime story “Ghosts” to the moseying “I Only Smoke When I Drink,” the call out of the peacocking man in “Jester In A Crown” to the rollicking “The Other Man,” The group’s collaboration with fellow country star Brett Kissel.
There are also a couple of numbers with a more familial bent, “Can’t Wait To Meet You” about the birth of their children and the heavier rocker “My Family,” inspired by the morals instilled in them from their parents.
The first Small Town Pistols album — made in full after they sent some tracks to Jonathan Simkin of 604 Records — was written and recorded over three years, in Vancouver, Toronto and Nashville. The group name was chosen as a tribute to their grandma, Ida, whose pistol-like quality Amanda shares. “After we got the album out there, we let out this big breath. Whatever it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be,” says Amanda.