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Angaleena Presley Talks Songwriting

Angaleena Presley
Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Angaleena Presley is getting set to release her debut solo album, ‘American Middle Class.’ She wrote or co-wrote all 12 of the album’s tracks, with each song representing a different chapter in her life.

“The songs on ‘American Middle Class’ are like pages out of my diary, lyrical snapshots of the joy and pain of being a hard-working, blue collar citizen whose goal is to keep food on the table and dreams alive,” Presley tells American Songwriter.

Writing all the songs for a debut album may seem like a huge feat, but the Kentucky-born singer says that the process comes naturally to her.

“I don’t write songs; they come from something way bigger than me,” Presley says. “I feel more like a song catcher. My process is to always carry a pencil and notebook with me, and no matter what I’m doing, I brake for ideas. I learned this the hard way because I let a lot of them slip away.

“Then, I’ll sit down every so often and piece everything together like a puzzle. On a really good, blessed day, I’ll feel compelled to pick up a guitar, and a whole song will effortlessly spill out,” she adds. “Those are the gems.”

Presley says that she learned quickly that editing is key with writing lyrics, a lesson she took from a copy of Tom T. Hall’s ‘Guide to Songwriting’ that she found at the Nashville library.

“He had a whole chapter on the extreme importance of editing. ‘If a word doesn’t add to the song, then get rid of it,’” she says. “When I write, I like clean lines (no pun intended) with concise but poignant content. I try to use words and phrases that really give me the biggest bang for my buck.

“My goal is to create an emotional connection or response in the listener, and I only have three minutes to get it done. I try to make every word count,” Presley says.

As far as inspiration goes, the Pistol Annies member says that it’s never in short supply.

“I could literally write 100 songs about how the grass grows. I’m an observer. Always have been,” she says. “When my husband tells me to stop staring, I tell him to stop interrupting me while I’m working. I watch, I feel, I listen, I touch, I taste. It goes through my filter and comes out as a song. I don’t discriminate. My heart is open, and the muse is ever welcome.”

‘American Middle Class’ is set for release on Oct. 14 via Slate Creek Records, in partnership with Thirty Tigers.

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