Release Date: Oct 4, 2019
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Angel Olsen's love songs always come with the suggestion that eternal love is impossible. On her fourth album she looks to herself for solace Angel Olsen has the sort of vocal that can convey enormous, abstract feeling with a single crackle. On the astounding 2016 album 'My Woman', the North Carolina-based artist summons pain, despair and hope through every quavering falter and punchy roar.
When Angel Olsen first emerged as a solo artist in the early 2010s, it was with a spare, haunting acoustic lo-fi that put all focus on her vulnerable, idiosyncratic vocal delivery. As she shifted from country-inflected indie folk to a brooding, more volatile garage-rock blend over the course of her next couple albums, even adding synths to the mix on 2017's My Woman, she managed to keep her tormented songs distinctly intimate. She does it again on All Mirrors, even when lavish arrangements and sometimes seismic production make full use of a 14-piece orchestra alongside guitars, synths, and a thundering low end.
How many versions of you are there? Would you even recognize them all as you? What if in the uniting act of consciousness, you truly do only see yourself—redoubled, duplicated, and dispersed-through others' bodies echoing to infinity? "I just want to know that what I'm seeing is what I'm seeing and not what I'm looking for," Angel Olsen wrote on Twitter in July. On Olsen's rapturous fourth album, All Mirrors, this cleansed vision is precisely what she gifts us. What you see is what you get.
To say that Angel Olsen's latest is a great leap forward is no slight on her previous work. The Asheville, NC singer-songwriter established her brand of wistful folk on 2012's Half Way Home, made a wry turn on 2014's Burn Your Fire For No Witness, and sprawled out further in both directions on 2016's My Woman. If that album's long instrumental passages and often ruminative tone suggested a new destination for Olsen, it would take her another three years to reach it. And it was worth the wait. All Mirrors would be an achievement if it ….
It's pure drama - both flourishing and understated. Epic album opener "Lark", title track "All Mirrors" (in which time takes away beauty) and mid record number "Impasse" (exactly the kind of track we could imagine would provide the theme to a Phoebe Waller-Bridge scripted Bond film) are bold, frenzied, immersive, fully orchestrated songs that seem to stretch out for an eternity. Their strength is driven from incredible arrangements (Olsen's friend Ben Babbitt and pop polymath/renowned orchestral arranger Jherek Bischoff both lent a hand on this front) and from Olsen's incredible voice and wonderfully-simple repeated refrains.
Angel Olsen is a natural at writing mantras for jaded souls. Burn your fire for no witness. Unfucktheworld. Some days all you need is one good thought strong in your mind. No one's gonna hear it the same as it's said. While her music has evolved from lamp-lit folk to boisterous rock'n'roll and ….
Even as Angel Olsen has gradually built up the elements of her music, from the voice-and-acoustic folk ballads of her debut Half Way Home to the Neil Young-esque rock gliders of MY WOMAN, it's still a shock to long-time fans to hear the sonic leap she's made onto fourth album All Mirrors. "Hiding out inside my head again/ it's no surprise I'm on my own now," she sings on opening track 'Lark', but the truth is she's never sounded less alone as on this album, where she's joined by a 12-piece orchestra through the majority. Previously Olsen has always managed to convey acidity, humour and intelligence simply with the deftness of her words and delivery.
All Mirrors is still a very different record, but with its brash, tactile production flourishes and chilling Scott Walker strings, it feels more like home than the last one. While it’d be great on some level to have Olsen ascend to proper pop star status, the new album shows what we could lose if that happened. There are few releases that can so compellingly bum you out, even if that’s not necessarily this songwriter’s prime directive.
Romantic anguish inspires US singer-songwriter to new heights Using heartbreak as creative fuel is an artistic device as old as time, yet there are currently few more adept exponents than Angel Olsen. Written in the aftermath of a "divorce" (she was never married), the one-time folkie's fourth album exorcises romantic demons by taking another bold leap forward. Scrapping plans to make a stripped-back, bare bones record - that version may follow next year - Olsen instead replaces the indie-guitar collage of 2016's excellent My Woman in favour of an atmospheric swirl of sound, all cinematic soundscapes, dramatic strings and dark synths that push her vibrato voice into even more extraordinary realms.
In 2016, Angel Olsen erupted onto the forefront of indie rock with My Woman. Four years after she had electrified listeners with the might of a folk-rock Goliath on Half Way Home and just two removed from the louder, pulsating sonority of Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Olsen doubled-down on her old-timey charm with My Woman, delivering a collection of razor-sharp love dissections. (Buy: Tickets to Upcoming Angel Olsen Shows) The catch? Each song skirted along under the cover of illusory, jovial arrangements.
T here are artists who seem to explode into the public consciousness at first sight, and there are artists whose career gradually builds to a tipping point. That's where Angel Olsen would appear to find herself. She started life as the kind of artist it seemed easy to peg. Her sound was literate, folky, lo-fi and downcast.
Opening and closing with two six-minute theatrical epics, Angel Olsen's fourth album 'All Mirrors' is cocooned in pensivity and self-reflection. Centred around Olsen's soaring vocals, the record takes elements from retro synth-pop, waltz-esque strings and rhythms, and Americana, melting into a ….