Angaleena Presley — Wrangled (Apr 21, 2017) ♣ Angaleena has teased the project over social media throughout the past year, having finished recorded in June 2016.
♣ “Waiting to go in the studio to make record feels similar to the last few days of pregnancy. I’m gonna pop on Tuesday! #freakishanticipation,” she wrote on Twitter, with the follow up “That moment when you know it’s over and that it’s just begun… #wrangled #inthecan #dunzo”, just a few days later.
♣ A savvy, perceptive country storyteller, Presley was the last of the Pistol Annies to release a solo album.
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Album release: April 21, 2017
Record Label: Mining Light Music/Thirty Tigers
01 Dreams Don’t Come True 4:17
02 High School 3:08
03 Only Blood 4:43
04 Country 3:35
05 Wrangled 4:43
06 Bless My Heart 3:14
07 Outlaw 4:10
08 Mama I Tried 4:03
09 Cheer Up Little Darling 4:41
10 Groundswell 3:34
11 Good Girl Down 4:43
12 Motel Bible 2:26
Written By Jonathan Bernstein // April 20, 2017 // Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
♣ On her 2014 debut American Middle Class, Angaleena Presley emerged from her behind~the~scenes role as a Music Row songwriter and Miranda Lambert collaborator as one of the freshest, most vital voices in independent country. Three years later, Presley further expands upon the righteous premise of her debut album, which shone light on an American heartland hooked on pills and overwhelmed by credit card debt. The result, Wrangled, is a rootsy collection of interpersonal dramas and vivid field reports from Presley’s American underclass.
♣ Presley remains interested in fictionalizing her own unlikely road to becoming an artist on songs like “Outlaw,” which deftly deflates renegade~country mythology and the veiled~autobiographical “Dreams Don’t Come True,” which finds Presley envisioning an alternate reality of pop mega stardom.
♣ But for the most part on Wrangled, Presley assumes the role of sharp~eyed observer. In rich character sketches, Presley chronicles the constraining gender roles of adolescence (“High School”) and the hypocrisy of pious small town pleasantries (“Bless My Heart”). But her finest achievement to date might be “Only Blood,” a weaving, multi~character socio~political drama told in under five minutes.
♣ Presley once again relies heavily on blue~eyed soul arrangements to anchor her genre~spanning country, which also takes cues from blues, roadhouse honky~tonk, Phil Spector pop, and waltz~time folk. Spiritually, the album draws inspiration from two of last year’s fallen titans: Merle Haggard, whom she answers in song on “Mama I Tried” and Guy Clark, whose voice can be heard reciting the lyrics to “Cheer Up Little Darlin,” his moving, final co~write.
♣ Clark would have been proud: Presley’s latest album is a masterclass in songwriting that shows the singer’s limitless potential. As she puts it herself on the Dixie~Chicks nodding title track: “Bible says/ a woman oughta/ know her place/ Mine’s out here/ in the middle of/ all of this/ wide open space.” ♣ https://americansongwriter.com/AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine; Score: ****½
♣ From a certain angle, it might seem that Angaleena Presley has reigned in her ambition on her second album, Wrangled. Where her 2014 debut, American Middle Class, tackled precisely what its title promised, Wrangled seems like nothing more than a collection of songs. A closer listen reveals how Presley ties together stories and character portraits of women battling the currents of contemporary society. Presley doesn’t push the point, but as the tales of dashed dreams, teen pregnancy, outlaws, and good girls pile up, it’s clear she’s charting the many ways society throws up roadblocks at females of all ages. She’ll fight back — “Country,” with a head~spinning verse from rapper Yelawolf, pushes against the conservatism of country radio — but she can also twist the knife with a smile (“Bless My Heart”) and achieves an aching sincerity with her slower songs. Presley deliberately evokes older country rebels — she co~writes with both Guy Clark and Wanda Jackson and offers a salute to the late Merle Haggard with ♣ “Mama I Tried” — but she’s not a retro act, no matter what the record’s clever throwback cover may suggest.
♣ She may emphasize her ties to the past but she’s intent on expanding the tradition, turning country music into a bolder, more inclusive place, and that desire is what makes Wrangled such a compelling album.
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