Tone Deft

By Hanna Schindler
On September 22, 2016

Folk rock songstress Angel Olsen released her third full-length album, “My Woman,” on Sept. 2 and with it, fully transformed and intensified her once budding, heartbreaking, gothic-folk tonality into an exhilarating introspective ride that froths with an incontestable brooding attitude. 

The album exudes confidence, even through heartbreak, and transcends the darkness that encompassed Olsen’s last LP, “Burn Your Fire For No Witness,” in 2014. 

The first half of the album consists of gritty, 70s-reminiscent psychedelic anthems. The song “Not Gonna Kill You” can best exemplify this sound as it grips the threshold of an introvert’s perspective of modernity, creating a stylish inquisitive narrative about the world around her. Olsen belts out impressive vocals with the accompaniment of a stellar guitar solo that completes the "Not Gonna Kill You," but in fact, it just might.

This artisanal blend of songwriting, vocal range and simultaneous genre incorporation on this album is what makes it so irresistibly engaging. If greats like Dolly Parton, Mazzy Star, Bjork and Stevie Nicks had a musical baby, the conceived, I imagine, would be very close to this album. 

Olsen sweeps back and forth between vulnerability and powerful declarations of lovable delirium. “Heaven hits me when I see your face/Go blind every time,” she sings on the folky dreamscape track “Never Be Mine” to only seconds later belt out the lyrics “shut up kiss me hold me tight,” on the dynamic and robust track, and album single, “Shut Up Kiss Me Hold Me Tight.” 

The emotional conundrum does not end there, with the second half of the album touching on tones of an even more haunting vibrato driven adventure. Olsen’s voice, although considerably manic at times, is more controlled than ever. After alluding to an era of 50s jukebox tunes, an essential rock n’ roll twist and a stripped back dive into an intense poetic and even theatrical production, the record begins to slow down with tunes like “Sister” and “Woman.” In a haunted, almost tragic feel of drama, the eight-minute songs grow more deeply emotional with every word.

The effortless continuity of heartbreaking exploration found through this opus of an album is only enhanced by the closing track “Pops,” a piano ballad that concludes with a final manifesto to love lost and an impending futile future. 

Without a doubt, “My Woman” hauls you through a range of emotional chapters, each one creating almost chronologic anecdotes. Olsen’s obsession and vitality through heartbreak and idealism ultimately wraps her in an even more mystifying sheath than before, leaving you gasping to know who exactly broke her heart.

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