Katie Armiger could be accused of borrowing liberally from the Pistol Annies‘ stylebook if her new song didn’t fit the 21-year-old so well. Through the years, Armiger has gone from portraying a sweet and innocent teenager to a woman with ideas and a wild side. ‘Better in a Black Dress’ is a big step forward in the introduction of the Sugar Land, Texas-born singer.

I left your key, I hit the road / I didn’t wanna but I had to let you go / I know you’re shocked, I know you’re mad / I know it hurts to know a good thing went so bad / And I really do hate that you hate me,” Armiger sings during the first verse of ‘Better in a Black Dress.’ Thick, swampy guitars foreshadow what she’s bringing. It’s a breakup song with no room for compromise.

I don’t need a white veil I got a black dress / Don’t need a preacher, no, no not yet / Don’t have the blues when I’ve got my red wine / Out on the town or in the city / Ain’t nothing like the way it fits me / So take that gown and lay it down to rest / Cause I’m better in a black dress,” she adds during the chorus.

What makes the difference in this song is the bridge. With a few words, she grabs the collar of anyone not paying attention — of anyone who’d previously dismissed her or one of her 10 singles. “I’m better in a black dress / Call me a hot mess / I feel good I gotta confess / I like the way it feels in cowboy boots or heels.”

This singer has grown with her slowly building fanbase, and each new single has hit her target even if most haven’t found significant radio airplay. Armiger is a good, if not great, vocalist, but her ability to tell stories is improving, making her a new artist to watch closely in 2012.

4 Stars

Listen to Katie Armiger, ‘Better in a Black Dress’