Truth can sometimes slap you in the face. And it does when you listen to the music of Angaleena Presley. Hailing from the small mining town of Beauty in Eastern Kentucky, Presley’s comparisons have likened her to the strong females of country music who have blazed the trail before her: Bobbie Gentry, Dolly Parton, Patty Loveless, and Angaleena’s musical hero, Loretta Lynn. Writing in Nashville since 2002, Presley has established herself as a no-nonsense songwriter, unafraid to tackle the toughest of subject matters.
“A lot of folks first heard of me when I wrote a song called ‘Knocked Up’ that Heidi Newfield cut on her first solo record,” Angaleena said. “People would say, ‘God, honey, that song has balls.’ But I just wrote what I knew. I was pregnant, not married, and felt like the shame of my family.” It was songs like “Knocked Up” and “Look It Up” (a Top 20 single for Ashton Shepherd) that began drawing the attention of writers and artists onMusic Row.
“I was in the middle of a divorce, living in the ghetto, sleeping next to my son who was three. And one night, at like 2 a.m., I got a call from my friend, Ashley Monroe, and Miranda Lambert,” Presley recalls. “They had been listening to my record – and probably drinking a lot – and asked me if I wanted to start a band with them. I almost hung up ‘cause I thought it was a prank call, but I went ahead and told them ‘yes,’ and I’m glad I did.”
The result…Pistol Annies, the critically acclaimed and commercially successful band signed to RCA. Their first single, “Hell on Heels,” was written by Presley, Lambert, and Monroe and has been certified gold by the RIAA. Their album, also titled Hell on Heels, debuted at Number One on country sales charts and has been picked by many critics around the country, including The New York Times, as the best album in any genre of 2011.
“It’s still surreal for me,” Angaleena reflects. “It feels like you can bang your head against a wall trying to knock it down for a long time, and one day it crumbles, and it was all worth it.”
Never one to slow down, Presley has continued her role as a prolific writer since the inception of Pistol Annies, working with many of Nashville’s esteemed writers including Matraca Berg, Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey, Erin Enderlin, and Lori McKenna. “Writing is my first love. It’s what I came to this town to do.” Selected by the Nashville Scene as one of the Top 10 songwriters of 2011, Angaleena Presley is truly poised to follow in the footsteps of her idol, Loretta Lynn. “She just told the truth,” says Presley, “and so do I.”