Angaleena Presley’s solo debut album, American Middle Class, released in October, is chock full of stories about the darker side of rural life. None darker, perhaps, than “Pain Pills,” for which Presley has released a stark and powerful video.
“Addiction has really changed the face of my personal life and a lot of things in my family. That song just haunts me,” Presley tells Radio.com. “If there’s anything I would get up on a soapbox for, it’s prescription medication. I just think it’s a travesty how careless doctors are with that stuff. It still happens. You don’t hand a 16-year-old a bottle of heroin and say, ‘Here you go. Just quit taking these after 12.’ Let’s start talking about it, let’s get some resources; let’s get some help.”
The clip even ends with a shocking statistic about the number of painkillers prescribed in 2013, encouraging anyone who has a problem with addiction to seek assistance.
For Presley, the daughter of a coal miner who was raised in the tiny community of Beauty, Kentucky, the brutally frank and personal songs of writers such as Loretta Lynn and Patty Griffin were a revelation that she could use her own talents to draw attention to what she observed around her – even when the picture was far from rosy and perfect.
“When I was in college, I was in my dorm and I heard Patty Griffin singing ‘Sweet Lorraine.’ I rose up and was like, ‘Whoa, she just said a bad word,'” Presley tells Rolling Stone Country. “Loretta Lynn, she was forthcoming in her songs, but Patty Griffin was just like, ‘This is how it was: My dad called me a [slut] and [a whore] on my wedding day.’ It opened some kind of Pandora’s Box in my creative psyche. I think about a month later I wrote the first song that I thought, ‘OK, I think I might have something here.’ Loretta planted the seed and Patty was the fertilizer.”