Photo: Amanda Marsalis
In 2014, Angel Olsen had just released the excellent Burn Your Fire For No Witness and was one of the must-see acts of SXSW. I made it a point of seeing her early on Wednesday before the masses arrived. With that in mind, I dragged my buddy Jamey to The Mohawk (inside stage) over 90 minutes before her set. We were lucky enough to catch a set by Lydia Loveless and then sat through a horrendous set of auto-tune synth garbage. As we sat there suffering, I did a quick poll of people there; and everybody I asked was in the same boat, wasting an hour just to get a glimpse of Olsen in such an intimate venue.
As soon as Angel and her band hit the stage, the room pulsed with energy as she ripped through a 40 minute set that was one of the best of the fest. Jamey, who had never heard of her, downloaded her album two songs in. Walking back into the Austin sunshine we talked of how special a talent she was and excited to see where she goes from here.
Well, she’s only 24 so I can’t speak for her the entirety of her career; but I can confidently state that she just released one of the albums of the year and has taken her career to the new heights.
The album begins with the dreamy synth track, Intern. I’m not much of a fan of synth music fan but as an opener, it is brilliant. It is a gentle opener before easing into a rocking quartet of rocking tracks that are all so wonderfully different. As an aside, I love the track sequencing on this album. Never Be Mine has a slightly twangy feel to it. And Shut Up Kiss Me is flat-out a killer of tune with an outrageously great video. But the tune that I can’t get enough of is Not Gonna Kill You. The tones on the guitars are fucking brilliant, the tempo is phenomenal and Olsen’s range is out of this world.
After all that, Olsen takes her foot off the gas for the second half of the album. And it is no less brilliant. Sister is an lovely 8 minute track about finding your place. It is slow-building tune that makes the guitar solo around 6:15 so much more tasty. Those Were The Days is reminiscent of Natalie Prass’ best work. Olsen’s whispery voice easing over some 70s AM Gold.
In a year where albums fronted by female artists have been all sorts of awesome, My Woman stands out as the cream of the crop. Her ability to constantly be evolving and growing is stunning. As I said after Burn Your Fire, I already can’t wait to see what she does next. She is a bizarrely talented individual and I’m excited to witness her career.
Angel Olsen is here