“American Middle Class” is an intentionally and intensely autobiographical record about life in and out of the holler, from the woman known as “Holler Annie” in her now-former group, Pistol Annies. The autobiography is explicit in the title song, where Presley’s lyrical polemics are bookended by her father’s reflections on a life spent as a Kentucky coal miner, and apparently in “Knocked Up,” too, an irresistibly hooky, banjo- and steel-fueled singalong about what its title suggests. It’s more observational on “Pain Pills” and the loping waltz “Dry County Blues” (“not a beer joint in sight, half the county’s laid off, laid up or gettin’ high”), and delineative in the weary, night-after portrait of “Life of the Party.” Musically, the record is full of full-blown country that both nods to traditional sounds and builds on them. Like the recent records from Brandy Clark and Kacey Musgraves, Presley’s “American Middle Class” raises the hope that there might be room in the contemporary country landscape for more than bros, vacuous anthems of self-affirmation, and ’80’s hair-metal refits. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “American Middle Class”Stuart Munro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.