Angaleena Presley has earned her place in the resistance to the formulaic vibe that rules Nashville these days. On her new album, “Wrangled,” she cements it with muscular fury.
Presley established her credentials with “American Middle Class” in 2014. On the new album she confronts similar demons, raging against the Nashville hierarchy but also Christian hypocrisy and any effort to pigeonhole her as a songwriter and a woman.
Rapper Yelawolf joins her on “Country,” a tirade against bro-country, complete with a “thank God for Sturgill Simpson” shout-out to everyone’s current favorite rebel. And on a feminist collaboration with rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson, Presley declares herself “not just a pretty face, not a flower in a vase.”
But Presley is at her best when she’s not ranting. She’s a world-class songwriter, which she proves on the title cut and on “Cheer Up Little Darling,” co-written and delivered with the late Guy Clark, a longtime mentor. The last song Clark completed, it serves as a gentle farewell.
Presley channels her feminist anger most effectively on “Only Blood,” co-written with fellow renegade Chris Stapleton. It takes on domestic violence with a clever twist on redemption and stands out on an album that sometimes feels too self-conscious.
Not as soulful as Presley’s first album, “Wrangled” still has its moments. They happen when Presley takes a storyteller’s approach to her anger. That’s when she affirms her status as one of Nashville’s most authentic and provocative artists. Scott Stroud, AP