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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Angel Olsen - Slow Burn, 17 Feb 2014
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Audio CD)
Angel Olsen has paid her dues. She has been a backing singer for Will Oldham and toured as a support act backing Neko Case in the UK last year. In this sophomore album "Burn your fire for no witness" she has staked a claim for wider recognition and on the evidence of this record her rise is as inevitable as it is unstoppable.

She is often compared to artists like Leonard Cohen and to be fair the old Canadian would be a "happy bunny" if he had constructed a song as good as Olsen's near seven minute "White Fire", not least the reflection that "Everything is tragic, it all just falls apart." This is haunting semi spoken melancholy of the highest order, with her husky voice also echoing the music of Cardiff past musical champions the Young Marble Giants. It would be wrong however to create the impression that this album ambles along with retreads of "Famous Blue Raincoat". Throughout it has highly charged electric songs not least the rollicking "Forgiven/Forgotten" which is straight out of the Black Francis and Kim Deal handbook. Other songs like "High & Wild" have a lo fi quality which is endearing with Olsen's dark lyrics holding attention throughout like a mid west P J Harvey. The choice of "Hi-Five' as a single is somewhat puzzling since its commercial appeal is limited but as a album track it adds to the fine sequencing. More powerful is the fuller rock punch of "Stars", alternatively the ragged alt country of the "Lights out" is an album highlight.

A gentler side to Olsen emerges in to the two songs that close the album when her wonderful voce dominates to full effect. The sad modern blues of "Enemy" showcases a confident talent whose songwriting skills are maturing at a frightening rate, while the gloriously lush "Windows" is a sublime finish to a varied and poetic record.

In the last analysis Angel Olsen has delivered a record from a relatively obscure position that demands intense musical scrutiny. "Burn Your Fire for no Witness" is an affecting suite of songs and after repeated listens constantly reveals new nuances and moods. God knows what the title alludes to but that is a mere detail when it is the music that fully demands our complete attention. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The girls are taking over, 22 May 2014
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One of the best of a plethora of female (and mostly American) singer/songwriters who have turned up the volume and are just as influenced by punk and roots rock as they are by folk and country. Olsen does the quiet/loud thing very well and has sympathetic accompaniment from like minded musicians. As a former backing singer for Bonnie Prince Billy, the unconventional approach has rubbed off. Should have a good future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Witness, listen, love., 21 May 2014
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This review is from: Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Audio CD)
Angel Olsen is righly getting centre stage. This is my favourite album of the year, so far. Heartbreakingly splendid. I’m very much looking forward to see her perform it live on tour this year.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burning Brightly, 2 Mar 2014
By 
Gannon (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Audio CD)
When a reviewer resorts to flights of verbosity – and occasionally I'm as guilty as the rest of them – it’s sometimes because they’re struggling for something meaningful to say. The writing has, for some reason, become a chore: the prose perhaps now more artful than its subject. Your forgiveness is hereby sought then for Bonnie “Prince” Billy protégée Angel Olsen has exactly the sort of magnetic repertoire to generate bouts of such purple superlatives.

Olsen is Missouri-born and very much an old world singer. Or at least she was. Her spellbinding 2010 release Strange Cacti was a dark-arts meeting of haunting reverbed melodies and that stop-you-in-your-tracks vocal. Its follow-up, 2012’s Half Way Home, was a natural progression to fleshed-out freak-folk. And then came the jarring single “Sweet Dreams” – pure plugged-in pop. With that in mind, and with one listen to Burn Your Fire For No Witness’s stomping fuzz-popper “Forgiven/Forgotten”, you’d assume Olsen was done with her old acoustic ways. You’d be wrong though. Olsen’s gone eclectic is all.

She has, for example, a curious Hank Williams-tinged rocker (“Hi-Five”) up her sleeve, an exercise in tumbling storytelling akin to that of the other girl-and-guitar of the moment Courtney Barnett (“High & Wild) and a mesmeric Kimya Dawson/pre-war hybrid (“Un****theworld”) too. All this and still no mention for the stunning 7-minute acoustic “White Fire”, which starts life as a hushed Leonard Cohen-style strum and closes as an unimaginably intangible Nick Drake whisper.

There are a small number of quality control inconsistencies however. The LP’s pedestrian midsection is certainly nothing to get your knickers in a twist over, but it does lead to the charming daydream ditty “Iota”, its shuffling murmur conjuring Parisian chanteuse chic. Olsen’s ricket-yet-timeless vocal isn’t always given the spotlight it deserves, though her quivering pipes are put to fascinating use during the barely-there “Enemy”. In turn, the beautiful, Feist-like “Windows” manages to hang its notes in so much echo as to capture them like shimmering motes of dust in a shaft of light. These are superlatives richly merited too. Olsen should be basking in the luxurious critique her work will no doubt be universally afforded.

Best tracks: “Forgiven/Forgotten” and “White Fire”
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Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Burn Your Fire For No Witness by Angel Olsen (Audio CD - 2014)
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