When I heard 'Forgiven/Forgotten', the heaving, chugging mid tempo rocker that was the first taste of Angel Olsen's latest record Burn Your Fire For No Witness (out on Jagjaguwar), I was stunned. Not because it was a great song - it is a damn fun one with a great bassline though - but because it seemed so at odds to everything I had come to hold dear about the Missouri artist. This was something that Best Coast or one of the bands with Girls as in their name would churn out, albeit with a dark wistfulness percolating underneath the surface; not the artist whose last longplayer was the esoteric, slowburning Half Way Home.
But this seems to be an elliptical curveball, as the album proper, whilst having other robust tunes like 'High & Wild', is more akin to the crafting of haunting pastoral causeways, ebbing and flowing in the mist of melancholy half-memories, that Olsen is becoming famed for. The husky, eerie 'White Fire' is one of the best songs she has ever written because of the use of her voice, bruised and burnt, mingles with the damaged narrative over a simple guitar line that it feels like a reverie spiralling out of solitary confinement, Olsen's lament her Last Supper before eternal redemption. And the timbre of her beckoning voice on 'Lights Out', a psyched soul number, has an overabundance of verve and confidence - this is no nervous, damaged wraith here, but an artist starting to truly harness her powers. Dammit - 'Hi-Five' reminds me of the Big O, Roy Orbison! Wow.
Love, loss, languishing dreams - all buoyed by Olsen's soaring compositions. If she wasn't already a blazing comet in the dark dark night before, starting looking to the sky for Angel Olsen's burning fire - this album is a cracker.
You can get Burn Your Fire For No Witness here - it's a great record. And if you can stay strong through 'White Fire' - you're a fucking liar.