Angel Olsen - My Woman

Holy mother of pearl I love Angel Olsen. My Woman has received rave reviews from all sorts of credible music publications, and I’m just another girl yell-singing these songs in my car here to say that I love it too.

There is a certain kind of sophisticated angst in music that I am constantly searching for at my angsty/sophisticated age of 26. I want there to be feeling and I also want quality. I want there to be a strong melodic drive AND insightful, profound, mic-drop epiphany lyrics. I want to get pumped up, I want to feel complete despair. Not required, but I usually want a distinct female power-voice with some banshee-wailing harmonies in the background. Thank you, Angel, for allowing me to have it all.

My Woman feels like the culmination of wisdom, experience, and perhaps partially an expanded budget. Olsen’s earliest EP Strange Cacti (2011) has much simpler arrangements; guitar and vocals that sound like they’ve been recorded in an empty storage unit with a concrete floor. The feeling and the wailing--this has always been the case. I am a forever-fan that celebrates every step in Olsen’s musical journey, but that doesn’t stop me from jumping for joy for this new explosive, full, upbeat, layered, synth-laden-fuck-yeah sound.

The dance hits are of course “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Never Be Mine”, perfect for jumping on your bed while air-punching/windmill air-guitar depending on your style. Those fucking background wails that start at 2:05 for the finale chorus in “Shut Up Kiss Me” make my heart hurt in a “proud of females everywhere” sort of way. My personal favorites include the first track “Intern” (which I hear in my head when I stare at my clothes half asleep before work like my life is a slow motion movie) and “Sister”, a mystic woman opus for a lifetime (when the vocal layers come in at 4:41...mercy). The common thread through every song is their masterful, natural, brilliant builds until your heart is exploding.

In an interview with Talia Schlanger for NPR’s World Cafe, Olsen was asked about getting painted into a “sad singer-songwriter box” after the release of Burn Your Fire For No Witness (2014). Firstly, I’m surprised by this question, as the track “Forgiven/Forgotten” is such an upbeat lo-fi jam that I feel offended by any boxing, but I get it, the chords are minor. Okay, there are slow sad ones (“...everything is tragic/it all just falls apart/when I look into your eyes at pieces of my heart…”).

When asked if any of these “sad singer-songwriter” labels informed her more upbeat styling for My Woman, she responded like the real-life evolving woman she is:

“I think there were parts of my creative self that, that...I’ve just changed style a little bit. I developed in interest in playing keys and synths. I started listening to different kinds of music so it’s just naturally occurred.”

Cool. I support you. Do your thing.

Majestic self-directed video for “Sister” and  “Shut Up Kiss Me”.


by Hannah Vaugh

Amber Harris