Artist: Angaleena Presley
Label: Mining Light Music
Brave women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds have always been the ones to pave the way in country music. Loretta wasn’t afraid to sing about birth control, Tammy wasn’t afraid to sing about divorce, Reba wasn’t afraid to sing about AIDS and abuse, Dolly wasn’t afraid to take a stand against men, and Angaleena Presley isn’t afraid to blow the whistle on the industry.
Wrangled is the big “screw you” to Music Row I’ve been hoping for, and I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been a little fed up with the state of country music. We don’t really seem to have an identity anymore. They took away our defining instruments, and that took away our sound, and then they favoured more mainstream, shallow lyrics which took away our depth and meaning. What happened to three chords and the truth?
I’m going to be completely honest here; I expected this review to be a walk in the park. It was a woman, and it was outlaw. It was perfect. However, I quickly realized that both Angaleena and this album are so much more than that. Regardless of whether or not you like this type of country music, the album itself is a work of art, and it’s about time someone called out Music Row, and I’m so glad that it was Angaleena. If you want to touch people’s hearts and make a lasting impression in their lives, you have to be honest, and Angaleena delivers a straight shot of honesty with each lyric through every song. It’s no coincidence that the first song her father ever taught her on guitar was “Mama Tried” because she’s been doing God’s work fighting for the working woman with this perfectly crafted and calculated record.
She starts the album off strong with “Dreams Don’t Come True,” co-written by Pistol Annies bandmates, Ashley Monroe and Miranda Lambert, and they’re not wrong. It’s a refreshing wakeup call for those of us sitting way up here on our high horses hoping to be somebody. It’ll knock you right back down where you belong: humbled. The album sheds light on and makes fun of the very real issues that women face. The title track, “Wrangled,” is a testament to women conforming to societal norms as wives and mothers: “Ironin’ shirts and keepin’ babies quiet/Ain’t no life, it’s a livin’ jail.” She croons about how the “Bible says a woman oughta know her place,” however, she doesn’t belong in that picture perfect prize-winnin’ cherry pie life.
She addresses the cruelty of women in “Bless My Heart,” and the superficiality of high school in “High School,” a song I wish had been around when I was in high school as something to cling to because “growin’ up can bring you down.” Every good record needs a murder ballad and “Only Blood” delivers and then some. Written by Angaleena and Chris Stapleton, backing vocals sung by Stapleton’s lovely wife, Morgane.
“Country” is an unexpected surprise that I wasn’t prepared for– it’s the big “screw you” to the industry. Angaleena has taken every stereotype, and the trends going around in country music and produced it in the style of everything wrong with what we hear on the radio. It’s kinda funny in a sad way because it’s true. It sounds utterly ridiculous, which is what makes it so good. She even enlisted the help of Alabama Native and rapper, Yelawolf, for one of the verses. Though it’s not my style in the slightest, I actually like this one. Angaleena up on her soapbox is quickly becoming one of my favourite things about her.
Though Angaleena didn’t intend to be an outlaw or a renegade in country music as she sings in “Outlaw,” it seems that’s exactly what she’s become. What she’s doing is bigger than her. She’s opening doors. She’s paving the way for something better, something new yet something old–the roots of country music.
Favourite songs: Only Blood, Wrangled, Outlaw, Groundswell, Good Girl Down, Motel Bible.