It’s perfect for stepping out into spring and starting a new chapter. Now, my heart is a bundle of smooth peach silk, tucked cozily inside the nest of my chest, beating softly until the next adventure.
angel olsen tour – Angel Olsen Is Beginning To See The Light
Angel Olsen’s Songs Made People Cry. All Mirrors, Olsen’s fourth album (or fifth, if we include 2017’s Phases, a collection of B-sides), arrives just a few months after her biggest moment to date: ‘True Blue’, a roller-disco track on Mark Ronson’s most recent album, Late Night Feelings.
One aspect of All Mirrors that really stands out are the expansive and spooky string arrangements. Olsen recently told Billboard that they were inspired in part by the late Scott Walker ‘s unique brand of avant-garde pop Olsen recruited string arrangers Jherek Bischoff and Ben Babbitt to help her achieve the expansive soundscape she was looking for.
When Olsen tells me all this three years after the fact, she’s on the verge of her biggest reinvention yet. Her new album, All Mirrors, is a stunning hard left into orchestral glamour and soul-baring torch songs examining solitude, loss, and what she has described as “owning up to your darkest side.” Once again, music videos ushered in the new age. And Connor, who’s now shot videos for everyone from Mitski to Beach House (not to mention feature films and TV shows), has stepped up as Olsen’s prime collaborator on the visual side, directing her two most ambitious clips yet. There was “All Mirrors,” which placed Olsen in a flowing white gown and a 1920s sci-fi dreamscape, and now “Lark,” which condenses all the drama and rage of a two-hour survival epic into one six-minute journey.
All Mirrors is a complete statement of broken-heartedness, healing, and understanding—if Olsen hadn’t cemented herself as one of the premier pop songwriters of the 2000s by now, All Mirrors does all but assures it.
In fact, it’s fatiguing to listen to All Mirrors straight through, which makes it easy to overlook the collection’s highlights: the oceanic torch song Impasse,” with its gothic bass fuzz and buzzing-beehive strings; the St. Vincent-esque What It Is” and its galloping, pizzicato string accents; or the jazz-kissed sprawl Endgame.” Even songs without strings suffer by extension: The foggy ’70s-rock homage Spring”—which boasts piano, Mellotron, and various guitars—is sunk by overly busy instrumentation, while the exquisite French-pop trifle Too Easy” is plush but slight.
New Love Cassette” is given a certain shimmer by the heavy synths, but unleashes moments of unease and frustration through a stunning string breakdown about two-thirds of the way through the track. Spring” is one of the brighter spots on the album sonically even as Olsen confronts the passing of time. What It Is” chugs along in a manner that is the album’s closest call back to the songwriting of My Woman but brings along captivating strings that both jitter, sway, and distort along the way. Impasse” and Endgame” are the two most ethereal tracks on All Mirrors. The former eventually finds a huge climax with cymbal crashes and strings crushing listeners and the latter floats along a bit more softly, in a melancholic atmosphere that closes with a gorgeous combination of flugelhorn and plucked strings. Tonight” also places its focus on ambiance with cinematic orchestral movements and builds.
The original plan was to embrace solitude, literally speaking, and record All Mirrors as a sparse solo record. In fact, she did record the solo album — resisting overdubs, an attempt to keep it as raw as her earliest recordings — and toyed with the idea of releasing two albums at once: solo and full-band renderings of the same songs. That idea was shelved when she began working with string arrangers, such as Jherek Bischoff and Ben Babbitt, and was struck by the powerful and sweeping dimension they brought to the material. It became clear she needed to release this record on its own. A self-described “control freak,” Olsen admits it was terrifying to relinquish control and trust her collaborators to take over these songs. “In ‘All Mirrors,’ I created the melody of that middle section of the song. I did it on piano and sent it to them and they turned it into this crazy masterpiece,” she marvels.
The new and unexpected places that All Mirrors take us are just as real as the influence of producer John Congleton (last seen producing 2012’s breakthrough album Burn Your Fire For No Witness). They are just as real as Summer” – the only song on the album that distinctly harks back to an earlier sound. It’s electronically skewed and gritty but features the unmistakeable twangs of an acoustic guitar beneath and the gently romping rhythm of a country and western soundtrack. Summer” is almost the first time you believe this album started out with the intention of being a solo, bare-bones record.
Now that October is upon us and our days of sun are numbered, let’s take a moment to bow our heads and thank Angel Olsen. With her fifth album, All Mirrors, the singer-songwriter has produced the ideal soundtrack for the rich, gloom-soaked days of autumn. All Mirrors is ambitious and winding. It unfolds in acts, like a grand opera. Multiple tracks feature expansive string accompaniments, and Olsen’s register jumps from eerie serenade to full-on scream. The lyrics reveal Olsen’s inner meditations on age, ambition, love and loss.
In a drastic shift from the minimalist guitar ballads that propelled her into the public eye, Olsen’s latest work relies on lush orchestration and electronic effects to immerse listeners in a dreamy, futuristic haze. Although artists with backgrounds in alternative music often turn to the glossy predictability of contemporary pop in hopes of expanding their audience, Olsen adamantly refuses to follow the crowd. Instead, All Mirrors” creates an unsettling, almost esoteric first impression, which many listeners will surely find unpalatable. However, those who remain undeterred by Olsen’s uniquely experimental sound will delight in its kaleidoscopic vibrancy.
Scrobbling is when tracks the music you listen to and automatically adds it to your music profile. The album is a portrait of the band’s skills as musicians, a document of a group hitting its stride.
As the camera was readied, Olsen took her place in a white dress with exaggerated curves, translucent like a jellyfish, through which her actual silhouette could be seen clearly. For a few moments people darted in and out of the camera’s path, checking lights and adjusting mirrors. Then the swirling synth lines of the song filled the room, and Olsen surfaced into the shot, inventing a little movement on the fly to amplify the drama — a flexing of the shoulder blades that resembled a bird stretching its wings or a boxer readying himself for a fight. As she stepped into the path of the mirrors, she stood in front of each reflection for a moment, holding her own gaze, keenly aware of her performance.
The album, though, finds Jewel stretching beyond these familiar touchstones. ‘śMove a Mountain’ť is run through with elements of elegiac folk, and ‘śTouch Red’ť and ‘śThrough the Looking Glass’ť are two of the group’s most chilling and sparse tracks to date. The uptempo ‘śTwist the Knife’ť is about a disappearance, but its portentous lyrics are complemented by an unexpectedly danceable synth groove. Jewel and company are more unabashed in their approach this time out, even right down to the album’s indiscriminating track sequencing, a welcome change for the typically fastidious band. Closer to Grey is another haunting synth-pop house of mirrors that transcends the nostalgia of the Chromatics’s prior work.
Or perhaps not. Three years on, the opening of Olsen’s follow-up suggests that the unexpected shift of My Woman told you more about Olsen’s interest in unexpected shifts than her desire to be a mainstream star. On paper, Lark doesn’t seem like anything particularly out of the ordinary: it’s a heavily orchestrated ballad, on which strings are bolstered by thundering, Phil Spector-ish drums, and we’ve all heard a lot of those over the years. But the arrangement of Lark doesn’t cleave to the standard epic alt-rock ballad mode: it isn’t trying to mimic the high drama of Scott Walker’s late 60s albums, nor the romantic lushness of the Beach Boys circa Pet Sounds, nor the cinematic swoon of Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson, nor any of the other things that alt-rock artists tend to do when they decide to favour the world with an epic ballad. Instead, the strings drone and churn and, occasionally, screech, as if signifying a moment of alarm on the soundtrack of an old thriller.
If you already know Olsen’s material – gut-spillingly powerful, dizzyingly versatile and unafraid to take risks from album to album – you’ll be aware that she’s not the type to hold anything back. Her 2012 debut Halfway Home set her out as an uncompromisingly confessional songwriter. 2014’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness proved her breakthrough album, intrigue and romance set against a soundtrack of bristling indie rock and alt-country. 2016’s My Woman changed tack again, an album encompassing classic rock ‘n’ roll, 1960s girl groups and dreamy, synth-laden ballads.
Olsen recorded two different versions of the new album. First, she went to Anacortes, Washington — stomping grounds of Mount Eerie, patron saint of stripped-down emotional indie rock — and recorded a stark solo-acoustic album. Then she took the same songs to Burn Your Fire For No Witness producer John Congleton, recording them with the assistance of soundtrack composer Ben Babbitt, orchestral arranger Jherek Bischoff, and an 11-piece string ensemble. Olsen says that she’s going to release the spartan arrangements of these songs, the ones that she recorded in Anacortes, next year. (She calls that version my Nebraska.”) I’ll be fascinated to hear those takes on the songs, mostly because I can’t imagine how they might sound. The overwhelming waves of sound are just too integral to the album.
He’s now working with John on something else so this project has definitely opened doors for him, and he can be a Swiss Army Knife player for many people. I’m really proud of him. He’s from a classical, avant-garde background and he’s also been doing video game soundtracks which is a totally different kind of composing. I asked him to do a demo for a section of ‘Tonight’ and he performed all the strings! I was crying and I said, ‘Did you perform all of it?’ Most people will write it in MIDI so you have to kind of imagine it a little bit. Every single string has a life of its own, but in MIDI it’s lifeless. It blew me away and I was like, ‘Thanks for doing that but please don’t approach every song like that because we’ll run out of time’ Laughs.
Angel Olsen moved to Chigaco after graduating and became ensconced in the underground indie scene there in the mid-to-late noughties. Her musical career began as a backing singer for Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy in the early part of this decade. She eventually signed to Jagjaguwar, and moved to the small town of Asheville in North Carolina in 2014 just as she was becoming well-known and lauded as a solo singer. Her last two albums were recorded in Los Angeles.
Angel Olsen has already shared the title song from her forthcoming full-length, All Mirrors, and today, she reveals the album’s opening track with the music video to “Lark.” In the clip, Olsen explores every element of nature: air, fire, earth, and water.
A sequel to 2007’s Digital Shades Vol. 1, DSVII is a step away from Anthony Gonzalez’s more pop-inflected work. The album’s lodestar is the work of Koji Kondo, the Japanese composer famous for his iconic contributions to the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series. Opener ‘śHell Riders’ť comes on slowly, climaxing with an arrangement of choir, honky 8-bit synths, and finger-picked guitar that will make you feel like you’re collecting power-ups ahead of a boss fight. The song sets the tone for the remainder of the album, which features small pleasures like ‘śHell Riders’ť and ‘śLune de fiel’ť that conjure the sounds of the Reagan-Bush years. The hammy piano riff on the interlude ‘śA Word of Wisdom’ť even sounds like it was plucked from the credit sequence of some lost ‘80s-era family sitcom.
Known for her boldly and admirably uncompromising performances” (Rolling Stone), Angel Olsen is pleased to announce a North American fall headline tour. Olsen will present a brand new live show across the country, including two nights at New York’s Brooklyn Steel, Los Angeles’ Palace Theatre, and Denver’s Gothic Theatre. Special guest Vagabon will support. Additionally, Olsen will be playing her biggest headline show to date in London at Eventim Apollo in February 2020. This is Olsen’s first full band tour since fall 2017.
Ever since 1996’s Ă†nima, Tool has been expanding their sonic palette to include extended instrumental passages, odd time signatures, and lyrics that touch on concepts like Zen Buddhism and Jungian psychology. And these progressive tendencies have reached their zenith on Fear Inoculum; all of its tracks with vocals exceed the 10-minute mark and largely eschew traditional ‘śrock’ť songwriting for more downbeat arrangements and exotic, laidback grooves. Drummer Danny Carey is arguably the album’s MVP, coloring the proceedings with complex polyrhythms and a diverse array of percussion.
The album embraces nostalgia, even if it sometimes feels like that’s all it does. Angel Olsen’s mid-album piano ballad Spring is a neat articulation of All Mirror’s devastating thesis.
Olsen says that even she was surprised by how some of the songs turned out. Opening track Lark sets the scene in spectacular fashion, drawing on dramatic strings provided by a 14-piece orchestra. At times, it sounds like Scott Walker tackling a skewed Bond theme.
Angel Olsen’s fourth studio album is her most adventurous to date and almost certainly her best. The Missouri-born alt-country singer has turned down the guitars on All Mirrors, with strings and synths utilised dreamily to create a symphonic soundscape that perfectly compliments her otherworldly holler. Where her earlier albums were more earthy, All Mirrors is an aesthetic creation that works in juxtaposition with her emotional lyrics, mostly drawn from experience.
Mick produced my last record, Kill it Yourself. His family generously let me stay at their place to work on writing new material for this record. I recorded it with Alexander Hacke from Einstürzende Neubauten, one of Mick’s friends and music colleagues from the olden days of punk. We got Benjamin Wayne from My Disco, Adam Donovan from Augie March, and Ned Collette to come and play because they were the only Australian musicians I knew in Berlin. All the German musicians I’d met were banned from Alexander’s studio.I wanted to make a song like Alan Vega’s Jukebox Baby.” Alan had just died, and he was friends with Mick and Alexander. The song of course is not like a Suicide or Vega song but the sentiment is there.
Angel Olsen is an American indie folk singer-songwriter who, before embarking on a solo career, was a backing vocalist for Bonnie Prince Billy and the Cairo Gang. Following three solo studio albums, Olsen released Phases, a record featuring rare tracks, demos, B-sides and covers.
New Love Cassette” and the title track arguably showcase the album’s formula best. Both practically sneak up on you, Olsen bobbing along above the arrangements before breaking into soaring crescendos. The peaks are almost operatic, explosive in their suddenness. The All Mirrors sound is nothing if not elegant, but it knows how to flex its muscles as well.
Some of the songs on Ode to Joy tap into the kind of sonic unease that the band hasn’t achieved since ‘śLess Than You Think,’ť an 11-minute epic from A Ghost Is Born that captures the feeling of a panic attack. The beat of ‘śQuiet Amplifier’ť sounds like jackboots goose-stepping across a town square, and the song’s production is compressed to the point of claustrophobia. It feels like a migraine’”another of Wilco’s common musical motifs is trying to replicate the types of headaches that plagued Tweedy for years’”until its last moments open to gentle, acoustic plucking, offering some relief. The percussion on opener ‘śBright Leaves’ť is high in the mix, giving it a Phil Spector-like monolithic sound, while ‘śBefore Us’ť is similarly percussion-forward, with a droning vocal take that approaches anhedonia.
If all of Lark” had just built up to that one moment, it would’ve been enough. But that’s not what happens. Lark” sprawls over seven minutes. It gets quiet again, then loud again, then quiet again. It expands and contracts, like panicking lungs. By the time the song ends, that grease fire has become a dying inferno. Lark” is a majestic, apocalyptic song, a sign that Olsen is veering off the map into new territory. And then the rest of the album makes good on that promise.
There isn’t a wrong move that this reviewer can hear. Even the shorter tracks reward patient listening. One winds up confidently inhabiting Olsen’s hemisphere, even if they might’ve initially scrunched up their fickle face. Impasse” is almost like a starker version of the climactic opener, but it was a smart move to reiterate that direness before the gentle Tonight.” And smart moves abound here. It will work some uplift out of you and, if you’re not made of stone, copious tears.
For Cave, communal grief seems often as beautiful as it is painful. He calls us all together to witness the ‘śspiral of children climb up to the sun’ť on ‘śSun Forest,’ť and invites his ‘śdarling’ť to watch the vessels carrying the dead ‘ścircle around the morning sun’ť on ‘śGalleon Ship.’ť Elsewhere, though, not even that bright light is enough to outshine the darkness: Sweeping strings give way to a stomach-dropping bass on ‘śHollywood’ť when ‘śthe kid drops his bucket and spade and climbs into the sun.’ť When he dreams that he’s holding Arthur’s hand on ‘śBright Horses,’ť or reassures a loved one’”perhaps his son, perhaps his partner’”that he’ll always be there on ‘śWaiting for You,’ť Cave’s voice is shot through with pure emotion.