While Ashley Monroe couldn't be in Las Vegas, Nev., for the 2018 ACM Awards -- she had just driven back to Nashville from a visit to her hometown of Knoxville, Tenn. -- the singer was cheering on her friend and bandmate Miranda Lambert from the sidelines as Lambert made ACM history by becoming the show's most-awarded artist ever.

"Me and her and [Angaleena Presley] are on a constant group text," Monroe tells The Boot. "So we told her how amazing she is.

"You know, she's such a real person," she goes on to say. "You forget sometimes that she's who she is. Even when I stand sidestage to her at concerts -- and I've been doing that since I was 17, I've known her that long -- I forget sometimes. I'll just be standing by her, grinning ear to ear, and step back and look at the crowd. She's something special.

"I bawled [on Sunday] night, watching her at the ACMs," Monroe adds. "I'm very proud of her. That's for sure."

Together, Lambert, Monroe and Presley make up the trio Pistol Annies, a group that Lambert has hinted plans to release new music this year. While Monroe couldn't reveal many details about what the Annies have planned, she did say that the trio felt rejuvenated after performing during a special appearance on Lambert's Living Like Hippies Tour.

"Oh, it felt so good," Monroe recalls. "Every single time [we play together] and people cheer like they do, we can't believe it. We're still humbled by it, and so we're super inspired right now."

For the Annies, Monroe made clear, something is in the works, although the group hasn't yet shared exactly what that is.

"We're just gearing up. We'll be going into the studio soon," Monroe says. "We've been writing, and we've written some of my favorite songs I've ever written in my life. We went to Miranda's farm last week and really hunkered down and got some good stuff."

Monroe says she's excited about the direction in which country music is headed, but that she likes to think of it as a broad format with room for a wide variety of artistic styles.

"I do get excited about the future of country, and I also think sometimes people can get nitpicky about genre," she explains. "I honestly don't care. If a song moves me, I don't care what it is. You know, I've got people and peers and heroes from a lot of different genres, but the thing we have in common is that we all love music, and that's what keeps us going."

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