Country fans were first introduced to Angaleena Presley’s no-holds-barred brand of music when she teamed up with Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe to form Pistol Annies. Over the course of two albums with the Annies, Angaleena gave a voice to the women who’d live some life and weren’t afraid to sing honestly about their experiences on songs like “Housewife’s Prayer” and “Hush Hush.”
She continues that thread of honesty with her new album, “Wrangled,” and as you can tell from the album cover, this project isn’t for the faint of heart.
There’s the kiss-off to the clichés of modern country music on the aggressive track, “Country,” as well as an amazing warning to those southern women who would dare dress up their disses with a dose of backhanded charm. Angaleena sings on the chorus of the song “Bless My Heart,” “If you bless my heart/I’ll slap your face.”
That tough girl façade gives way to a more vulnerable reality on a few other tracks, including “Mama I Tried” and “Outlaw.” It’s rare to hear an artist sing about not having the success they’ve chased after for so long. Though she’s appeared on major awards shows as a member of Pistol Annies, breakthrough fame has alluded Angaleena so far in her solo career. If she comes across as an “outlaw” or an “anti-establishment” act, it’s not because she didn’t try to fit in to what Nashville wants out of its female country stars.
“It’s a hard thing to admit,” Angaleena tells Rare Country. “I think it’s easier to embrace the tough, ‘Who cares. I don’t give a crap’ attitude. I think we [as artists] do care and we do want the awards and we do want the respect of the Grammy board. It’s hard to do that when you have an opinion and write honest songs and scare the crap out of people.”
She adds, “It does make me sad that I’m not front row at the ACM Awards, but I’m not going to change myself to get there.”
If Angaleena is feeling like an odd man out, she’s got some amazing musical friends joining her on the oddball musical journey that is “Wrangled.” Chris Stapleton co-wrote the dark murder ballad “Only Blood” with Angaleena, and that’s Chris’ wife and musical partner Morgane Stapleton singing backup. Rock ‘n’ roll icon Wanda Jackson co-wrote “Good Woman Down” with her, and the late singer-songwriter Guy Clark was the co-writer on “Cheer Up Little Darling.”
Angaleena’s fellow Annies, Miranda and Ashley, are co-writers on the project’s opening track, ‘Dreams Don’t Come True,” which lays out a Nashville newcomer’s dreams of stardom versus the reality of being in the music business on a day-to-day basis.
Speaking of that musical sisterhood, Angaleena tells us, “I’m grateful for Ashley and Miranda. They have meant so much to me creatively. When we get together, it’s absolutely magical. That has been one of the greatest blessings for me as an artist is to meet two artists who I can be in a room with and feel just — there isn’t even a word. It’s more than comfortable. It’s like we’re one, or some hippie new age word.”
Just like Miranda and Ashley, Angaleena is just fine following her own musical path no matter where it leads her. That’s what “Wrangled” is all about.
“This record is about me embracing that part of myself to the fullest extent,” Angaleena says. “I’m locking in the hubs. Dropping her down in to four low, and hitting it wide open.”
You can check out “Wrangled” here.
Go to AngaleenaPresley.com to see where she’s playing shows in support of the new project.