In opening track Dreams Don’t Come True, which begins as a ‘demo’ then morphs to a hit record, Angaleena Presley defines the reality behind stardom and other seemingly attainable aspirations, the ones which hang around the darkest corner of your mind, and is a melancholic yet sweetly performed song accentuating the pathos in the easy failures, even when pursued in righteous defiance, I flipped the bird to them whores in high school, an apt line as it precedes the following song titled High School where a similar portrait of real life continues when a schoolgirl pregnancy is portrayed for all its tragedy, boys don’t want the mom to be, they want the prom queen. It is a universal: growing up can bring you down.
These ‘classic’ but freshly composed and played songs bring a common sense to the otherwise escapist narratives of Country [C&W/American] life. This is obviously furthered in third song Country where knowing the back of a hand and a bible are further monuments of endured and hopeful life torn down for their nonsense of casual acceptance.
Wrangled tackles the surprising persistence, it seems, of a society still defining a woman’s role where Presley namechecks, for example, girls in the magazines, cherry pie, ironing shirts, and what the bible says as well as other archaic expectations of cultural behaviour still thriving today. And this is again a sweetly composed and performed song, plaintive and yet defiant, the satire biting, as it should, if you listen.
There are many other ‘meaningful’ songs on this album, and all are graced with consummate musicality, Presley clearly a rising and worthy star [though reading informed reviews out there we are shown it hasn’t been and isn’t an easy journey for Presley to break through mainstream expectations, and perhaps the gender expectations she so consistently challenges in her lyrics]. I will in closing mention one more track, however: Cheer Up Little Darling is another sweet tune, speaking of a gentle defiance this time, but notable for a spoken intro – a snatch of the lyrics from this song that he co-wrote – from her friend and mentor Guy Clark, sadly passed. She has been in good company, and it shows.