Angaleena Presley is an artist many know better as a member of Pistol Annies. ‘Wrangled’ is my first experience of her solo material. Her first solo album ‘American Middle Class’, released in 2014, generally received favourable reviews and Rolling Stone labelled it as “an impressive solo debut”, and the album received a nomination for International Album Of The Year at the UK Americana Music Awards. Since then, she has found a new home and a loyal fan base in the UK, and she will be returning in July to promote her sophomore album.
The album opens with ‘Dreams Don’t Come True’, written with fellow Pistol Annies Miranda and Ashley. Telling the Anti-Fairytale of a singer with big dreams of a recording contract, before life got in the way and she ended up pregnant and her dream lost. While I appreciate the 3 chords and the truth aspect of country music, this seriously makes me consider a night in with straight blade and a bottle of Makers! I always think that the first track on ANY album should be the one that sells it, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression.
Moving into the aptly named ‘High School’ we have a tune that reminds me of what I’d imagine a 1950’s American High School dance to sound like. I close my eyes and can see boys stood one side of a hall, girls the other and a chaperoned refreshments table at the back.
‘Whether you’re the cheerleader or the class clown
Straight As or the jack arounds
A big city or a one horse town
Growin’ up can bring you down’
A Country song is something I need to be able to relate to. Like all of us, I need to hear pain, love, a breaking heart and some good ol’ fashioned go to hell! Tell me a story! Give me something real!
Presley is going for her distinctive ‘outlaw’ sound with this record and to be honest, I’m struggling to warm to the miss-match of styles, uninspiring lyrics and predictable sound. Her vocals remind me a lot of Miranda Lambert; she does have a fabulous voice, but I don’t feel this record is the greatest showcase for her potential.
It lacks that killer song that would make it stand-alone. For the most part, the album has a very ‘samey’ and melancholy vibe, however there are certain tracks that spice things up a little bit. ‘Motel Bible’ is a catchy little tune and has that straight-talkin’, go to hell sound.
“Saturday night in my Sunday best
God don’t give a damn how I’m dressed
Jesus loves me, this I know
Motel Bible told me so”
Simple, up-beat and straight to the point. A more rock ‘n’ roll story of touring, staying in Motels, drinking ‘holy fire water’ and referring to the crowds she’ll draw as a congregation.
‘Country’ is Angaleena attempting a little more ‘bad assery’. Fast paced and racy, it’s reminiscent of P!nk’s ‘Trouble’. The song disappears into a cacophony of noise for me and I don’t understand the need for the rap breakdown? It gets my toes tapping and I can appreciate the musicality, but still not my thing.
I’m not slating the record. Angaleena has called this her “F-You record” – it’s the record that she wants to make and the production, theme and unique style is categorically Angaleena. I have a lot of respect for any artist putting their music out there, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Angaleena is quite outspoken and it shows in her edgy lyrics and her vocal delivery, but the tracks on this album lack a certain artistry for me. I’m no expert and I may have missed her point completely. I really wanted it to take me somewhere completely different.