Angaleena Presley Wrangled Album Review

 

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Yesterday I published a fake news type piece where I poked fun at Kelsea Ballerini’s immature pop music. Angaleena Presley however is the antithesis of everything that Kelsea Ballerini is. Angaleena Presley does not get radio play. She doesn’t have 3 number 1 hits, or even 1. Her music is mature and honest and damn sure isn’t Disney glitter pop. Her music is smart, it’s vulnerable and at times it can get pretty gritty. As a member of the group the Pistol Annies, Presely is not alone in making really good country music. The two other members of that group Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe have in the last couple of years released some of the best albums in country music despite limited radio play in the case of Miranda and practically no radio play in the case of Ashley Monroe. I had always planned to review this album when I had learned that it would be released in April but what really peaked me interest was the collaboration that had everyone talking with Yeowolf who is a country rapper.

The song is called “Country” and it is one of the many songs in the last few years that has criticized the direction of mainstream country music. Her and Yeowolf aren’t really even talking about the sound of the music but the substance. The music that is generic and dishonest. In Yeowolf’s part of the song he raps about how corporate radio has become and how there’s no more Hank or Johnny Cash on the radio. It’s all just country posers on the radio. He even drops Sturgill Simpson’s name saying “Thank God for Sturgill Simpson.” Although I like the idea for the country criticism song, the delivery is frankly unpleasant. It’s not a song that I would honestly want to hear again because it is too grungy and loud. It’s almost a mixture of punk rock and garage country which isn’t something I enjoy.

Where the album really shines are on songs that are personal to Presley like “Dreams Don’t Come True” and “Wrangled.” The former is about what Presley had expected when she moved to Nashville to chase her dream of being a country artist. She had expected to get a record deal and drive a fancy car. She would make hit records and eventually get hooked on drugs. In reality however she got pregnant and never became a big star. The message that she tries to get across is that not only do dreams not come true but in the process they break your heart and hurt you. The title track is about Presley feeling like she is physically constrained and trapped being a housewife. She needs to get back to being herself where she can be free.

The theme of personal introspective songs continues with “Outlaw” and “Mama I Tried.” On “Outlaw” she describes how she wants to fit in and be like everyone else but she can’t. People assume that she is simply brave and tough but everything she has ever done has been for desperation. “Mama I Tried” is a rock song that talks about how her mother wanted her to make it big so that she could buy her fancy jewelry and clothes. She tried to make it big and came close but she fell short and will never make it now that age has passed her by.

A track like “High School” does a really good job of delving into the stresses and problems that both girls and boys face. The first part of the song talks about a girl who gets pregnant in high school and is ostracized for it. She tries to hide the pregnancy but she is already starting to show. She is afraid girls will tease her and boys won’t want to date the mother to be. The story then changes perspectives to talk about the boy whose life is all about throwing a ball and trying to be like his father. When he gets upset (being a boy) he’s not supposed to cry or show emotion so he takes pills in order to feel better.

Even though I like the album more than I dislike it I find it hard to get past the production on too many songs. Earlier I had mentioned my problems with “Country” and they are also present and songs like “Good Girl Down” and “Motel Bible.” There is simply to much being done to Presley’s voice and it makes it difficult for me to enjoy even if I find the lyrics to be strong. I can appreciate the honesty and quality of the lyrics of this album but it can’t be one of the best albums of the year for me if half the album is difficult to listen to.

Grade: B- 7/10

Best Songs: Wrangled, Dreams Don’t Come True

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Exclusive Kelsea Ballerini New Album Track Listing

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It’s been a slow week for the blog because of how busy I have been but that should change in the coming weeks with school ending. In the meantime I read an article by Nash Country Daily that describes Kelsea Ballerini’s new album as “dark” and “about growing up.” Since I’m a jerk, I decided to make a joke out of this and write up a fake track list with a short description for each song. The descriptions are meant to be written by Kelsea as well. Hope you enjoy.

1. Dunkin’

A truly dark tale of a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts in which I ordered a decaf double foam latte with soy milk only to later realize that it was whole milk instead of soy milk! It happened a few years ago but it still gives me chills.

2. No Phone, Alone

This one is still hard to talk about. One day on the way home from the mall I left my phone in the limo. I was without my phone for like 2 hours and I wanted to die. I wonder how like the pilgrims didn’t get to text the Indians about stuff.

3. Boy 

This track is a lot more uptempo and happy than the previous two dark songs. Basically I like say the word boy a lot of times. The music video for this is like so lit, I can’t wait for everyone to see it!

4. Daddy Where’s My Glitter?

Yet another dark track on this album. I go back to a traumatic day during my childhood when I ran out of glitter and Daddy wouldn’t get me more. He claimed it was because he had a broken leg but, I think he was just faking.

5. Real Housewives

I like love all the reality shows on TV. I just wanted to honor all the incredible people that work so hard to be on these shows. It’s so tough being famous.

6. Brave

So like a lot of people don’t know this about me but I’m like really brave. On the tour bus one night there was like a spider and I hardly cried at all. I calmed myself down by playing some of my new music and then the spider for some reason just died on it’s own. So weird!

7. Country Boy Shake It For Me

This song was such an inspiration growing up! I love Luke Bryan and I wanted to do the song Country Girl Shake It For Me from the female perspective. The song was a little more on the traditional side so I changed the music a little to fit with my personality.

8. Song 8

Writing an album is like really hard. I just ran out of ideas so I said “How bout we just call a song song 8?” Well my label loved it and we decided to run with it! It’s not really about like anything but, it’s really happy and fun.

9. Dibs Remix feat Katy Perry

Dibs was such an inspiring track to so many people that I thought it would be great if we could do a remix with Katy Perry! She’s so incredible and her music is actually pretty country if you think about it.

10. Country Radio Your Like The Coolest!

This is my little hey hey to country radio. You guys are like so awesome! You will play anything I send you and I think that’s like so cool!