Posted: May 24, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Angaleena Presley, 'Wrangled'

The Pistol Annies cowgirl brings all her sardonic country realness, teaming up with guiding spirits as her fellow Annies, Ashley Monroe and Miranda Lambert, yet belting wise-ass outlaw tunes that sound like nobody but her. “I thought I’d change the world with three chords and the truth I’d be like Elvis but with lipstick and boobs” – instead, she ends up with low-rent road tales like “Groundswell” and “Motel Bible.” 

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 listen.


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