Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
You may have heard of Angaleena before because she was a member of the country semi-super group, Pistol Annies with Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe. Wrangled is Presley’s second solo effort, released almost three and a half years after American Middle Class. This is what country music should be. It is dark, edgy, introspective, and a downright blast to listen to. Presley wrote or co wrote every one of the 12 songs on this collection. And speaking of co writing, she got some assistance with some country and Americana heavyweights such as her old band mates Lambert and Monroe, Guy Clark, Chris Stapleton, and Wanda Jackson, among others.
This album starts off strong with Dreams Don’t Come True, which was co written with Lambert and Monroe. This is a rather dark number about how believing in dreams can be destructive.
Dreams don’t come true,
They’ll make a mess out of you,
They’ll hang around the darkest corners of your mind,
And beat your heart black and blue,
Don’t let anyone tell you they do,
Dreams don’t come true.
Part truth, part allegory that tells us that it takes more than dreams to be successful. Dreams alone can be just a carrot on a string and be deflating if they are not backed up by something more substantial. It is not as pessimistic as it may appear at first blush. Presley’s voice is angelic and commands me to listen to every word she sings.
Wrangled also gets a bit heavy on Country (Track 4), which features vocals from hip hop artist Yelawolf. They give a nice shout out to Sturgill Simpson. This is not just straight ahead country, as this track proves. There are some pleasant twists and turns that differentiate Wrangled from your garden variety country music. Presley takes some artistic risks, but they pay off.
The title song, Wrangled (Track 5) is as close as this album gets to traditional country. But even this song is edgy and full of attitude.
I’d rather eat dirt Than bake another prize winning cherry pie,
Girls down at church can go to hell,
Ironing shirts and keeping baby’s quiet Ain’t no life, it’s a living jail.
This song takes some Southern social norms and kicks them to the curb. Wrangled is almost a metaphor for being constricted by what society dictates roles should be and Presley is having none of it.
If you want to buy another great country album in 2017, than buy Wrangled. Presley proves her meddle as a country music tour de force. Let’s just hope that another three and half years don’t go by before the next release.