Album of the Week: Angel Olsen | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Album of the Week: Angel Olsen

Phases Out Now via Jagjaguwar

Nov 10, 2017 Bookmark and Share

Phases is the name of Angel Olsen's new release, and that might seem to be accurate enough when you consider it's a collection of rarities that span the St. Louis songstress' burgeoning career. And to be sure, opening tracks "Fly On Your Wall" and "Special" are plugged in and atmospheric and downright rocking, while many of the tracks that follow are spare, acoustic, and sometimes so gently played they border on spoken word because her voice is so prominent.

And oh what a voice it is. "Only With You" and "All Right Now" are back-to-back tracks that show her range, one feathery and the other full throated and raw, sounding as if she aged decades between the two. On "California," meanwhile, Olsen holds notes long enough to ease them out of key, as if she's about to burst into sobs. It's followed by "Tougher Than the Rest," which serves as a withdrawal from the prior track's bold vulnerability. On it, her voice is quiet and echoing as if she's singing from across a room, all of which contradicts the assertive claims she's making about herself in the song's title, as spare guitar strums murmur in the background. And she hits wincing high notes on "Sans," over guitar that minimally oscillates as if it's threatening to cut a very narrow but deep groove.

Yes, the "phases" of Olsen's career may not vary as wildly as other artists that reinvent themselves for the sake of novelty or publicity. But what difference does that make, when she can find so many subtleties in sadness from one song to the next, and so much texture in despair? More than anything, this collection shows how she defies convention and mines heartache for gorgeous, boundary- and expectation-defying music.

Also read our review of Phases.

Angel Olsen Tour Dates:

Sat. Nov. 18 - Mexico City, DF @ Corona Capital
Tue. Nov. 28 - Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater %
Wed. Nov. 29 - New York, NY @ Town Hall ^
Thu. Nov. 30 - New York, NY @ Town Hall ^
Fri. Dec. 1 - Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel ^
Sat. Dec. 2 - Portland, ME @ State Theatre ^
Mon. Dec. 4 - Boston, MA @ House of Blues ^
Tue. Dec. 5 - Montreal, QC @ Rialto Theatre ^
Wed. Dec. 6 - Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre ^
Thu. Dec. 7 - Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre ^
Fri. Dec. 8 - Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theatre ^
Sat. Dec. 9 - Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre ^
Sun. Dec. 10 - Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom *
Tue. Dec. 12 - Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer *
Wed. Dec. 13 - Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer *
Thu. Dec. 14 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *
Sat. Dec. 16 - Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel *
% w/ Ned Oldham
^ = w/ Heron Oblivion
* = w/ White Magic

Read our 2016 interview with Olsen.

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November 13th 2017

Levels are the call of Angel Olsen’s new release, and that could appear to be correct sufficient while you do not forget it is a group of rarities that span the St. Louis songstress’ burgeoning career. And to make certain, establishing tracks “Fly on your Wall” and “special” are plugged in and atmospheric and downright rocking, even as a number of the tracks that follow are spare, acoustic, and once in a while so lightly played they border at the spoken phrase because her voice is so distinguished.