Top positive review
Extraordinary and essential
on 4 May 2017
I had never heard of Angel Olsen until a few weeks prior to writing this review. Browsing in the supermarket, I was suddenly frozen in my tracks by a woman's voice coming over the speakers. I held up my phone and 'Shazam'd' the song - only the second time I've done this - just in time to ascertain that the beguiling vocalist was Angel Olsen and the song 'Never Be Mine', from 'My Woman', her follow-up album to 'Burn Your Fire For No Witness'.
I rushed home to listen further online and learned that the rest of her work was at least as good as the song that had caught my attention in the first place. I've since bought all her albums and I'm going to see her in concert in a few weeks.
I'm somewhat taken aback by this music. It's burning a hole in my chest. There are many words one could apply to its various elements, but I prefer not to; it invites you in and its principal effect is on the unconscious. The first time I listened to the song 'White Fire' I was moved to tears. That said, on songs where she cranks it up she really rocks, with a sympathetic, swampy band who know exactly where to throttle and where to kick back.
I'm not given to hyperbole or overstatement. My sincere feeling is that Angel Olsen is a high-echelon song poet, the possessor of an exquisite voice and a performer of rare power, grace, intelligence and freedom of expression. She is a weaver of spells. As a songwriter myself I'm chastened by her talent but thankful for it.