Album Review: Angel Olsen – My Woman

By Alex Sherry, Contributor

[Jagjaguwar; 2016]

Rating: 9/10

Key Tracks: “Sister,” “Intern,” “Never Be Mine”

Five years ago up-and-coming artist Angel Olsen released her first album Strange Cacti, a raw, emotional, lo-fi journey through the darkest parts of love. A few years later, Angel shakes the music world again with her fourth album My Woman, a gorgeously mastered LP that redefines her music career. This new direction features songs that harken back to classic rock and pop tracks, making it feel like we are listening to the greatest hits record of an artist that was producing albums 30 years ago.

While this new highly produced record is very different than the kind of album we expect from Angel, it still holds much of the same themes. This is apparent right away with the opening track “Intern,” which features a cascading synth that floats through the whole song while Angel tells us she’s done falling in love. Angel’s new sound can be attributed to producer Justin Raisen, who’s been a part of breakout albums from artists like Sky Ferreira and Ariel Pink.

Even though the music got more polished, the raw emotion of the vocals we come to expect from her early work is still present. This emotion really shines through in every aspect of the album because of the live recording of each track. The passion of each musician can be heard in every song, creating a unique flushed out sound that is lacking in music today.

The track that stands out to me the most is “Sister.” Angel gives a performance similar to something we would hear from early Stevie Nicks. Her light, wispy vocals are constantly fighting with the dry, scratchy guitar, creating beautiful contrast throughout the whole track. This builds, culminates and explodes into an incredible guitar solo that is captivating, grabbing your attention no matter what you’re doing.

The last track on the album, “Pops,” is vintage Angel Olsen. The return to her lyrically driven style of songwriting is the perfect ending to this album and sums up what it is trying to say. Lyrics like “Tear it up so they can all sing along” resonate with the listener. Under this happy exterior is something a lot more grim. Much like her previous albums, My Woman paints a picture of lost love, pain and loneliness, but covers it all up with a clean, classic pop rock style that will immediately appeal to the masses, making this an instant classic.

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