Merle Haggard may have let down his mother when he was sent to prison, but his way to make amends – the classic “Mama Tried” – left the future of country with a template for unapologetic, outlaw living and one of music’s most iconic arpeggio riffs. Angaleena Presley captures the spirit of both on “Mama I Tried,” a new song from her forthcoming LP, Wrangled. Setting that lick alongside a mischievous, aggressive bass line, it’s an anthem for anyone who takes chances, makes mistakes and bucks the system.
“Mama I tried, mama I tried. I cheated and I lied,” Presley sings – like Haggard, it’s not so much an apology as it is a proclamation. “I painted up my face like a rodeo clown and I choked on cheap perfume as I spread myself around.” Co-written by Oran Thornton (Eric Church, David Nail), who also produced the album with Presley, “Mama I Tried” is one of Wrangled‘s harder rocking moments, showing that the Pistol Annie is not interested in conforming to Nashville’s standards, her parents’ desires or genre constraints.
“I’m a strong, independent woman who can clean a house, ride a dirt bike, pitch a tent, wash clothes and fix the machine when it breaks,” Presley tells Rolling Stone Country. “I’m also a sensitive, flawed human being who believes that honesty, empathy and vulnerability can heal the most callous heart. I write songs about the terrible, awful shit that happens to me in hopes that listeners will know they’re not alone.”
Wrangled is out April 21st on Mining Light/Thirty Tigers.