Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Angaleena Presley

  • American Middle Class [Slate Creek, 2014] A
  • Wrangled [Mining Light, 2017] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

American Middle Class [Slate Creek, 2014]
This moderately astonishing bunch of songs begins with a long series of homely oxymorons and a fable about not going to hell--both a bit overworked I think, both probably up front to deflect the hard news not quite specified by the title except insofar as it uses the C-word at all. Because as one track after another then bangs home, the middle class this coal miner's daughter knows from life is up against it. From the line at the grocery store to the life of last night's party taking the long way home in her high heels, nobody's quite getting by. "Dry County Blues" is about meth, "Pain Pills" about opioids, "Drunk" about that guitar player who made her an all too honest woman after she got "Knocked Up." Shit-shooting Pistol Annie Presley is grim and acerbic and kind all at once. And she sings pretty as you please. A

Wrangled [Mining Light, 2017]
The onetime Pistol Annie, who last time gave us American Middle Class, the New Nashville Feminism's finest album, leads once again with her corniest stuff. Her "Dreams Don't Come True" and "High School" are sharper than most--"Flip the bird to the whores in high school" and "It's late September and she's startin' to show," respectively. But there's meaner to come as she sweetly guns down the preacher husband she knows like the back of his hand and cattily cuts down the "beauty mark on the human race" who ain't blonde enough to play so dumb. And if you wish she was feistier still, figure the reason she isn't in "Outlaw," where she identifies her career goal as "straight-shootin' hifalutin writer on the hit parade." Only instead she's on the road hoping the merch sells as she grinds out a "Groundswell," as sly a take on the economic marginalization of the job of music as Jeffrey Lewis's "Indie Bands on Tour" only much less amused about it. A-