Showing posts with label angel olsen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label angel olsen. Show all posts

Thursday, October 10, 2019

video review: 'all mirrors' by angel olsen

Yeah, this one was tough... really wanted to love this album too, I really did, but it just didn't pan out. Eh, it happens.

Anyway, next up is an album that absolutely panned out and that I'm really excited to talk about, so stay tuned!

album review: 'all mirrors' by angel olsen

It feels like I've been struggling to get onboard with Angel Olsen for years now.

And what's frustrating is that it always feels like there's just one or two elements that get in the way of things really clicking. She's a terrific singer, but sometimes she's stuck with production that doesn't flatter her unique timbre or style. The production can often swell with portentous presence and purpose... and wind up dragging if the climax doesn't connect. She's a strong songwriter, but I often run into quibbles of nuance and framing that just don't pay off as strongly as I hoped. And all of this is surrounded by the fact that in the lo-fi, alternative country-adjacent scene, she is surrounded by acts that might not have her unique pipes but can stick the landing a little more strongly.

But there were two things that prompted me to check this album out anyway, the first being that in 2017, she teamed up with Alex Cameron for the song 'Stranger's Kiss', which showed that with a potent groove beneath her and some punchy synths she could ride an absolutely terrific song, one of the best of that year. And I kept thinking about that song when for #2, I heard that her newest album All Mirrors was not just going to be a pivot towards baroque pop with huge, lush string arrangements, but also an embrace of synthesizers. Which... alright, I didn't love how she utilized them on MY WOMAN but maybe there'd be a little more focus and clarity this time, especially given how much the music press has slung critical acclaim at her this year - although given the recent avalanche of critical acclaim at baroque pop acts spanning from Lana Del Rey to Julia Holter to Weyes Blood in the past year, I do take that with a grain of salt. But fine, I still really wanted to like this, so what did we get with All Mirrors?

Friday, September 16, 2016

video review: 'MY WOMAN' by angel olsen

I predict this review to get some fascinating response. It's a little too late to stand firm against the bulwark of people who loved this, but hey, I've been busy.

In the mean time, the schedule is piling up yet again, but we'll have to wait until I'm back in town on Saturday for M.I.A, Devin Townsend, Jason Aldean, and the rest. Stay tuned!

album review: 'MY WOMAN' by angel olsen

So I've been taking stock of the music I've enjoyed thus far this year, and there's one big trend that's starting to emerge: women on the fringes of country and folk putting out some absolutely excellent records. Sometimes they're a little more pop like Jennifer Nettles, sometimes they're a little more towards rock or mainstream country like Brandy Clark or Lydia Loveless, but between case/lang/veirs, Dori Freeman, and Lori McKenna, it's starting to coalesce into a trend, especially this summer.

In other words, given the frankly startling amount of critical acclaim going her way, I was bound to check out the newest album from Angel Olsen. Long time fans will remember that I covered her 2014 album Burn Your Fire For No Witness...  and that I didn't really care all that much for it. It wasn't because of the content, don't get me wrong - Olsen is a strong songwriter with a good penchant for capturing the emotional subtleties in her tunes, and a lot of the rougher production could have been a good compliment for it. But her biggest strength by far is her vocals, and that record chose to smother her in lo-fi fuzz that didn't flatter her subject matter or delivery - what could have been a potent torch album instead guttered into something I wish I remembered better.

So when I heard that Angel Olsen was releasing a more open-ended, experimental record that was jumping across styles - and was one of her most critically acclaimed to date - I was definitely on board. Hell, I've always wanted to like her music more but have been waiting for her to find the right sound to balance against it... so with MY WOMAN, did she get it?

Monday, February 24, 2014

video review: 'burn your fire for no witness' by angel olsen

I might have been harsh on this album, but I really wish it was stronger and more memorable than it is. And considering what's looking to be coming out in March... yikes, it looks rough, folks.

About four more albums coming out in the rest of February, so stay tuned!

album review: 'burn your fire for no witness' by angel olsen

Before we begin, let me share with you something that's fairly common to all music nerds, including myself: we have a strong sense of history. We've often built ourselves a stored back catalog of music from the past that we like to revisit or hold up as classics, and nothing gives most music nerds more pleasure than finding ways of linking the music of the past to the music of today. And while that can make some music nerds a little insufferable - and I count myself among that number on occasions - it can be rewarding to trace the lineage of a song or an artist, especially when that artist doesn't sound distinctly modern.

So to indulge that vice of mine, let's talk a bit about Angel Olsen. An indie folk singer-songwriter, she burst onto the scene in 2012 with Half Way Home, a debut album I liked but never quite loved. I've mentioned often I'm not a fan of white guys with acoustic guitars, and I often hold the fairer sex under the same umbrella. What made Angel Olsen stand out most was her voice, as it was very reminiscent (for me at least) of traditional country singers from the 50s and 60s, most notably Patsy Cline. It was emotive and powerful and had a great wounded vulnerability that was well-balanced against her impressive stage presence, and it was really quite compelling - almost enough to make you overlook the fact that the instrumentation wasn't anything stellar or that the lyrics were only really passable at best, pretty but not exactly substantial or powerful on their own. Sure, they supported her vocal style well, but if we want to draw a Patsy Cline comparison, she's not as good of a songwriter as Willie Nelson. On top of that, there were moments where I felt Angel Olsen might have oversold her vocals a little bit - she never engaged in the histrionics that annoy me with some vocally talented indie folk singers, but there were moments that definitely lacked subtlety.

So when early buzz was suggesting her newest album Burn Your Fire For No Witness was going in a rougher, more upbeat direction, I was definitely interested. I wasn't sure how good it would sound, but a lack of memorable melodies was a problem with the last album and now that she was on a new label, maybe it would give her instrumentation more of a kick. So how did it go?