Angaleena Presley - The Bullingdon, Oxford
The great thing about being a UK punter for country or American roots music is that you get to see pretty major acts in intimate venues, up close and personal in a way that US audiences rarely do. Angaleena Presley is one third of country supergroup Pistol Annies (she’s Holler Annie) alongside Ashley Monroe (check out her new record The Blade, it’s one of the years best) and country superstar Miranda Lambert. She's a big deal and there are many back home who give their stetsons to experience a performance like this evening's.
Turning up to The Bullingdon doesn’t suggest that the buzz has quite made it to Oxfordshire yet though. In a room with barely 100 people in attendance, the Kentucky native perches on a stool and with just her guitar and a glass of water treats the crowd to the most honest show they’ll have seen this year. More than once Presley announces “I have no filter” and that is most definitely true. The good natured Nashville resident spends the next 80 minutes sharing stories, songs, home truths - and laughs.
With an even spread of songs from her own, very impressive, American Middle Class record, some unheard songs, and a sprinkling from the Annies’ records, there's something for everyone. Not short of confidence, that lack of a filter means that you see the real Presley on stage and leads to many highlights: her album title track (“This is my story…”); ‘Knocked Up’ (“Here’s a song about how I met my first husband.”); fun new one ‘If You Bless My Heart I’ll Smack Your Face’ and the the painfully vivid ‘Pain Pills’.
In detailing the truths behind the songs you leave knowing far more about Holler Annie than you’ll ever know about most other artists, and for a show full of songs about addiction, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, censorship, homesickness - and more - it’s way more fun than it has any right to be.
A word too for supporting act My Crooked Teeth. Better known around Oxford as part of alt.country-ish Toliesel he delivers a great half hour of songs with themes ranging from his wife, Super Mario Brothers villain ‘Bullet Bill’ and the time he met Evan Dando - an anecdote not suitable for repeating in a family publication like ours. He’s solidly engaging, writes some mean melodies and is a perfect intro for the main act.