Angel Olsen: Phases

- In an effort to satiate her ever-ravenous fans, Angel Olsen returns with a collection of demos, B-sides and covers on her fourth full length, Phases. The record is sprinkled with nods to the godfathers of Americana, country and Rock n’ Roll - CashOrbison and Springsteen.

The Boss even makes a more obvious appearance on the record, with Olsen’s heartbreaking lo fi cover of Tougher Than The Rest, which she delivers beautifully: stripped back and raw, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. She skirts the edges of woe akin to contemporary Lana Del Rey, but, you know, without the mediocrity Del Rey sighs out every time she opens her mouth.

Languid and hypnotic slow burner, Special sprawls for seven minutes, harnessing twangy guitar tones reminiscent of Lynard Skynard, sprung from a deep well of 1970’s psychedelic influence. Not overcooked or self-indulgent, Olsen keeps you engaged with simmering dissonance facilitated throughout by ambient percussion to flesh out the sonic landscape.

All Right Now is a calming, whispery B-side lullaby taken from Olsen’s 2014 LP Burn Your Fire For No Witness. It’s so easy to find comfort in her swirling, mesmeric vocals as she hums All right now / All right now / All right now as you drift off to sleep.

Each song on Phases is a thumb tack on the map of Olsen’s personal history, revealing track by track all the places she has been and all the hearts that were broken along the way. As always, the jewel in Olsen’s compositional crown is her storytelling: her compulsion to be vulnerable, to lay herself bare, to show us who she is. The record is melancholy and understated, relying on her vocal dexterity and nifty guitar work to do the majority of the talking - so shut up and listen.

- Fiona Priddey.

Album Details

Album Title: Phases
Artist: Angel Olsen
Record Label: (Jagjaguwar / Inertia)