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Angaleena Presley — American Middle Class

Angaleena Presley — American Middle Class (October 14, 2014)

United States     Angaleena Presley — American Middle Class
≈   Výborné metafory, krásné narážky, zkřížené vtipy. Písně A. Presley vykazují spousty humoru: "Musíš pracovat tak tvrdě, aby to vypadalo jednoduše." Celé album je naplněno bolavou melancholií, že někdo něco chce a nikdy to nedostane, nebo nikdy někoho nechtěl, protože tak či tak ho nikdy nedostane. Všichni jsou zlomení, poroucháni, zkorumpováni, trh selhal, hnije ode dna a mačkán je z vrcholu, to je zde zeširoka jazýčkováno. Radikální rozpolcenost, obklopující americkou politiku vs. kladení otázky, zda to něco znamená, že nejlepší v těchto písních jsou ženy. Je to součást emocionálního pozvednutí, že se od žen něco očekává? To naznačuje, že rovnováha mezi ambicemi a vyrovnáním se s reálem nebude nikdy vyřešen. Je to problém, že artikulace v písni je "něco mezi požehnáním a prokletím." Amerika je dům chudých i bohatých, který bude zbourán velmi brzy. A důkladně, podotýkám.
≈   Až se to začne dít, budete na to zírat s porozuměním.
≈   A savvy, perceptive country storyteller, Presley was the last of the Pistol Annies to release a solo album.
Birth name: Angaleena Loletta McCoy Presley
Born: September 1, 1976, Beauty, Kentucky, U.S.
Location: Nashville, TN
Album release: October 14, 2014
Record Label: Slate Creek Records
Duration:     46:48
Tracks:
01 Ain't No Man     3:44 
02 All I Ever Wanted     5:27 
03 Grocery Store     3:42 
04 American Middle Class     3:47 
05 Dry County Blues     4:01 
06 Pain Pills     2:58 
07 Life of the Party     5:24  
08 Knocked Up     3:54 
09 Better Off Red     3:38 
10 Drunk     2:57 
11 Blessing and a Curse     3:37 
12 Surrender     3:39
Producer: Jordan Powell
Written by:
≈   Angaleena Presley     1, 2, 4, 6, 9
≈   Lori McKenna / Angaleena Presley     3
≈   Angaleena Presley / Mark D. Sanders     5, 8
≈   Matraca Berg / Angaleena Presley     7
≈   Angaleena Presley / Sarah Siskind     10
≈   Bob DiPiero / Angaleena Presley     11
≈   Barry Dean / Luke Laird / Angaleena Presley     12
AWARDS:
Billboard Albums
≈   2014 American Middle Class Country Albums     #29
≈   2014 American Middle Class Top Heatseekers     #14
CREDITS:
≈   Kelly Archer Vocal Harmony
≈   Sarah Barlow Photography
≈   Matraca Berg Composer, Lyricist
≈   Charlie Brocco Engineer, Mixing
≈   Aden Bubeck Bass (Upright), Guitar (Bass)
≈   Barry Dean Composer, Lyricist
≈   Bob DiPiero Composer, Lyricist
≈   Fred Eltringham Bottle, Castanets, Drums, Main Personnel, Pans, Shaker
≈   Audley Freed Dobro, Guitar (12 String Electric), Guitar (Electric), Mandolin
≈   Keith Gates Banjo, Bazouki, Dobro, Guitars (Ac+El), Mandolin, Vocal Harmony
≈   Josh Grange Guitar (Steel)
≈   Brad Henderson Art Direction
≈   David Henry Cello, Violin
≈   Luke Laird Composer, Lyricist
≈   Patty Loveless Vocal Harmony
≈   Kam Luchterhand Assistant Engineer, Mixing Assistant
≈   Gale Mayes Vocal Harmony
≈   Lori McKenna Composer, Lyricist
≈   Taylor Pollert Engineer
≈   Jordan Powell Producer
≈   Angaleena Presley Composer, Lyricist, Primary Artist, Producer
≈   Angie Primm Vocal Harmony
≈   Emily Saliers Vocal Harmony
≈   Mark D. Sanders Composer, Lyricist
≈   Stephen Schofield Photography
≈   Sarah Siskind Composer, Lyricist, Vocal Harmony
≈   Chris Stapleton Vocal Harmony
≈   John Henry Trinko Hammond B3, Keyboards, Wurlitzer
≈   Glen Worff Bass (Upright), Guitar (Bass)
Review
ANN POWERS, October 05, 201411:03 PM ET
≈   The temptation when confronting a serious problem is to either cry it out or laugh it off. This is true in country music, as in life. Even the greatest songs about heavy subjects either diffuse the tension with jokes or go entirely maudlin, providing catharsis without true clarity. Angaleena Presley, though, tackles the hard stuff head on.
≈   Take "Pain Pills," one of the beautifully frank and poignant portraits of small–town Southern life on the Pistol Annies member's remarkable solo debut, American Middle Class. In the first line, the local football hero is dead; by the last, the addiction that starts with a doctor's prescription has defeated half his neighbors, too. "Dry County Blues" tells a similar story of boredom and chemical indulgence. "Grocery Store" notices the spent potential in the face of a middle–aged clerk at the Winn–Dixie who "looks like a football coach who just lost his way." In the exquisitely tender ballad "Better Off Red," a college grad who realized her mother's dreams by leaving her rural home longs for her worker father: "He don't give a damn about these things in my head."
≈   This is real life, unresolved, its pain and modest hope coming in increments. It's also familiar ground for country songwriters, but in Presley's patient, exacting hands, the clichés fall away. Born and raised in coal–mining Kentucky, Presley was determined to make American Middle Class as honest a view into the place that made her as music could accommodate. Presley recorded her father speaking of his life in the mines for the title track, and a drug–addicted neighbor reading Scripture for the heretic's gospel song "All I Ever Wanted." These flourishes of audio–realism blend seamlessly with Presley's own gently powerful voice, an instrument made for determining what's true.
≈   Though they're never clichés, Presley's songs do exhibit plenty of humor, and they often play with classic country and Americana music forms. "Ain't No Man" strings together colorful metaphors in classic blues style to describe a woman whose choice to remain single confuses the status quo, while "Drunk" emulates Lucinda Williams in its hymn–like verses and dirt–kicking rock hook. But unlike songwriters who get stuffy when they feel they have to live up to tradition, Presley remains matter–of–fact. She has a right to live in these spaces.
≈   Fastidiousness elevates Presley's work; it's not easy to write a fresh–feeling song about an alcoholic ex–husband or a damaged party girl, but she does it by making sure every bit of wordplay gets weighted with actual insight. With many of Nashville's best players behind her (Keith Gattis and Audley Freed play guitar, while Patty Loveless, Chris Stapleton, Sarah Siskind and Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers appear as backing vocalists), Presley goes for a sound that's both traditional and richly immediate. But it's that other quality, the commitment to absolutely no B.S., that makes her music exceptional. "You gotta work so hard to make it look easy," she sings in "Blessing And A Curse," her anthem about the American disease of chronic dissatisfaction. Presley confronts what's tough so easily that it feels completely right. :: http://www.npr.org/                                                             © Photo credit: Blu Sanders
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine; Score: ****
≈   The third and last of the Pistol Annies to deliver her own solo record, Angaleena Presley operates on a more intimate scale than either Miranda Lambert or Ashley Monroe. Lambert trades on her bravado, Monroe on her savviness, but Presley relies on subtlety on American Middle Class, her long–awaited 2014 solo debut. Attitude isn't of paramount importance here, nor is the kind of flashy production that would send her into the country charts. With its measured arrangements and deliberate, detailed narratives, what American Middle Class most resembles is Brandy Clark's acclaimed 2013 album 12 Stories ("Drunk" sounds like an unofficial prelude to Clark's "Hungover") but Presley is a distinctive songwriter in her own right, possessing a knack for conveying the fraying dreams of a middle America with empathy and sly humor. Sometimes, the jokes are front and center, as they are on the shambling "Knocked Up," but the nifty thing about American Middle Class is how Presley often blurs the line between sobriety and satire on her sketches of lives lived on the fringe of America. Perhaps Presley isn't a powerhouse of a singer but her lazy gait means her barbed sensibility goes down smooth, so it's only after the record has concluded that the depth and variety of American Middle Class sink in. This is a rich, deceptively relaxed portrait of working–class life in America in 2014 and it will linger for some time to come.
Artist Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
≈   As the last of the Pistol Annies to release her own album, Angaleena Presley wasn't a superstar on the level of Miranda Lambert, nor was she quite the Music City survivor like Ashley Monroe. Instead, she was a behind–the–scenes songwriter who received a boost once she became part of the Annies. Once the group's 2011 debut Hell on Heels turned into a success, it was a matter of time before Presley received her own record contract, which she did in 2014, when she released American Middle Class.
≈   By the time that album came out in the fall of 2014, Presley had been working away in Nashville for the better part of 15 years. A native of Martin County, Kentucky, where she was born to a school teacher mother and coal miner father, Presley began playing music as a teenager but didn't pursue it seriously until she left Eastern Kentucky University. She moved to Nashville in 2000, landing a publishing deal not long afterward. It took her a while to land songs on records, but they started to come toward the end of the decade, with "Knocked Up" appearing on Heidi Newfield's 2008 LP What Am I Waiting For? and "Look It Up" showing up on Ashton Shepherd's 2011 album Where Country Grows. Her real break, though, was meeting Ashley Monroe, a singer/songwriter who was with the same publisher and brought Presley to the attention of Miranda Lambert. The trio formed Pistol Annies in 2011 and collaborated on the songs that became their debut Hell on Heels. A gold success in the U.S., the record generated a 2013 sequel called Annie Up, a record that didn't do quite as well as the debut but still performed respectably. A year after Annie Up, Presley finally released her long–awaited debut American Middle Class on Slate Creek; it debuted at 29 on the U.S. country charts. :: http://www.allmusic.com/
Review
Rising country star speaks up for the 99 percent on sharp solo LP
BY Jonathan Bernstein | October 21, 2014 | Score: ***½
≈   Best known for her work with Pistol Annies, Angaleena Presley is the latest hard-nosed country traditionalist to challenge Nashville's frat–party tendencies. On the first half of her impressive solo debut, Presley fills her disappearing middle–class blues with sharp, compassionate tales of unfulfilled pensions and steep tuition bills. Later on, the bona fide coal miner's daughter changes gears with a series of vulnerable country–soul ballads that find her longing for some domestic stability. In "Better Off Red," she resigns herself instead to the life of a misfit songwriter: "'Cause a blade of bluegrass left a scar on my neck/And it ain't quit hurtin' yet." Fortaken: http://www.rollingstone.com/
Review
By Anthony Easton 21 November 2014; Score: 8
Work, Church, Jesus, Pills and Other Country Melodramas
≈   Country music is in the middle of a boom in songwriters whose commitment mostly rests on narratives. Story songs were vital from the beginning, but lately, there are people who have these tiny writerly details: excellent metaphors, beautiful allusions, wry jokes. Delightfully, there are often songs about the genre, about how the landscape works to inform the genre, or how religion functions within both country music itself and within this landscape, or even about how vernacular music affects the creation of more formally constructed works. I am thinking about Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, Robert Ellis, Brandy Clark, Kacey Musgraves, and even Miranda Lambert or Taylor Swift before 1989. They also are marked by a structural ambiguity, a way of negotiating the constant instability of the genre, of the economy in general, of the dissolution of the middle class suburban family. Angaleena Presley fits into this discourse explicitly, but fascinatingly she might be the moralist of this group.
≈   Her solo album refuses the romantic sentiment of some of new Nashville’s worst excesses, such as how the genre seems to now advertise small towns, drinking, Sunday church and Saturday fucking. There is something slippery in Presley’s response to these excesses, and this unresolved quality establishes a difficult tension with how to love a place, where you are aware of its hypocrisy, and the genuine violence that occurs in that space, the reconciling could be seen to be impossible. This is especially true in the problems of the domestic, especially the intersection of domestic trauma and drugs or alcohol. If we are talking about moralism, this might be the best argument in favour of prohibition, while knowing how much of a disaster the war on drugs is. This is only one example of being caught between two middles.
≈   The whole album is filled with the aching melancholy of wanting something and never getting it, or never wanting someone because you will never get it. How everyone is both broke and broke down, the corruption and failure of the market rotting from the bottom and squeezing from the top, is profoundly realized here. I am thinking especially of the one–two punch of “American Middle Class” and “Dry Country Blues”, which arrives in the middle of the album. “American Middle Class” begins with a taped interview with Presley’s father, discussing his coal miners history. She calls herself a product of the “never give up, american middle class”, and this might be the first mention in recent memory of a big label record extolling the ethics of Union history, but it also talks about how “scholarships went to the rich / and grants went to the poor”, about shit jobs and bad degrees, and eventually becoming a part of the middle class. I keep thinking that the right and the left are collapsing among people Presley’s age. This song, which talks about how her father didn’t get a pension, works hard enough to pay for welfare families, but also about how the middle class sustains America, and how that sustaining class is dying, with the anthemic chorus about tearing down the poor house, but only if we can build it up again, suggests a radical ambivalence that surrounds American politics.
≈   If she is ambivalent about the current situation, her discussion about the problems of small towns and pills might as well come from Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, it is a bleak discussion of the failures of economics. The connection of sex, drugs, and money to a failure of middle class aesthetics, is so plainly stated that it cannot even be thought to be bitter: “There is nothing illegal as long as the sheriff gets paid / there is good christian women locking their front doors / praying their daughters don’t turn into meth whores / while their sons are out drinking and driving and trying to get laid.”
≈   Everyone is taking pills, half the county is laid off, and the way she talks about addiction is almost reportage. She thinks about the rise of heroin overdoses due to the lack of OxyContin, and the recent changes to narcotics that make them more difficult to smoke or snort, and also how these addictions come from the body breaking down after shit retail or even shittier warehouse work. The recent pill problems are directly resulting in the move from those good union jobs, into service jobs that just cannot pay the rent. That country music is better at making these connections than most of the press, indicates that the genre still positions itself as a place where working class people get their commentary. That the next song, called “Pain Pills”, has a series of riotous guitar solos,  providing a Greek chorus against a set of first– or second–person stories, of construction–worker sons and preacher’s daughter’s made liars and thieves, collapsing and dying due to these barely legitimized medication. Consider these two songs by Presley, the Pistol Annie’s “Taking Pills”, and Brandy Clark’s “Take a Little Pill”, you have to wonder if it means anything that the best of these songs are by women. Is this part of the emotional lifting that women are expected to do, still?
This question of women’s responsibilities in working class communities, are found throughout this work. Her cover of Heidi Newfield’s “Knocked Up” is a little innocent after the references to meth whores, but one believes the shame here more than Newfield’s cover, which was always a bit rollicking and not in an ironic sense. What happens after marrying the boy that knocks you up as a teenager, is the listing song “Drunk”. The song begins with a slow, rolling guitar, and it is almost a cappella. Presley, after decades of doing all of the cleaning, raising babies, shopping for groceries, “whittling down the debt,” being sexually available — everything she does ends with the line “when you were drunk.” She talks about not keeping secrets anymore : “My daddy loved you like my son / because I kept your secret from everyone,” so she leaves and he stays both in the house, and as a drunk, in an elegant parallelism, that ends on a hopeful note.
≈   It is not all bad news, all failures. The hope continue, in the gorgeously abstracted ballad, “Better Off Red”, which provides this utopian vision that she already lost. When she sings about being strangled by bluegrass, or about how her “daddy don’t give a damn about these things in my head,” and how he “ain’t hurting yet” or how she “wants the bank of the river instead of the sea” — that desire for a home that will never return, it is the small town that one desires, and one can never have. That one can desire this kind of faux–small town, even after knowing of the shamed teenage mothers, all of the pills, and meth, and corrupt cops, it suggests that the balance between ambition and settling is never resolved. It’s a problem she articulates on the song “Somewhere Between a Blessing and a Curse”. When she “thanks God for the moments in between,” she articulates those moments with heartbreaking skill. :: http://www.popmatters.com/
Website: http://www.angaleenapresley.com/
Website: http://www.pistolannies.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/guitarleena
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angaleenapresley
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PistolAnnies
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Angaleena Presley — American Middle Class

 

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