Angaleena Presley: American Middle Class

Rising country star speaks up for the 99 percent on sharp solo LP

Angaleena Presley Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty

Best known for her work with Pistol Annies, Angaleena Presley is the latest hard-nosed country traditionalist to challenge Nashville's frat-party tendencies. On the first half of her impressive solo debut, Presley fills her disappearing middle-class blues with sharp, compassionate tales of unfulfilled pensions and steep tuition bills. Later on, the bona fide coal miner's daughter changes gears with a series of vulnerable country-soul ballads that find her longing for some domestic stability. In "Better Off Red," she resigns herself instead to the life of a misfit songwriter: "'Cause a blade of bluegrass left a scar on my neck/And it ain't quit hurtin' yet."