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Angel Olsen - Slow Burn,
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.