A long time has passed since we first heard the beautiful vocal idiosyncrasies of Angel Olsen in her early collaborations with the likes of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, and her third album, ‘My Woman’, is another affirmation of her remarkable talents as a songwriter.
For the first half of the record, that very distinctive voice sometimes carries songs that in the hands of another singer might flounder; the straightforward punkish vibe of ‘Never Be Mine’ has vague shimmers of Blondie, while ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’ is elemental rock’n’roll and a little bit Cate Le Bon. The production here is scaled back, close to a demo almost.
In these opening few tracks, the songwriting perhaps doesn’t quite match Olsen’s aesthetic ambition, until the swirling, fizzy, chaotic rush of ‘Not Gonna Kill You’ kicks in and the record comes alive, just before it enters its slower, more tender half.
From here on in, Olsen excels. ‘Heart Shaped Face’ is laconic, heavy with heat and meaning, a slow steam rising from a slower tempo and the vocals as beguiling as can be. Many of these songs are the very definition of slow-burning; what feels insubstantial at first then really ignites and envelops us. And there’s a beautiful coherence and consistency within each different side of this record.
Olsen’s immense talent hovers under the surface throughout, and of course the vocals are consistently stunning. Find yourself a quiet hour and soak it all up.
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