Angel Olsen: Phases (Jagjaguwar) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #62 - Julien Baker



Nov 09, 2017 Angel Olsen Bookmark and Share

There is something about the way Angel Olsen‘s voice crackles, howls, and pulsates that gets right into your bones.

Over three full-length albums (2012’s Half Way Home, 2014’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness, and 2016’s My Woman) the Missouri-raised Olsen has roved through stories of heartbreak, longing, and self-identity over arching guitar riffs and sensuous melodies.

Along the way, she’s kept back tracks which haven’t made it onto these records. These rarities find themselves at home here, on Phases, a collection of soaring musicality and feverous emotion.

You may have heard some of these before“All Right Now,” “Only You,” “May as Well,” and “Endless Road” were Burn Your Fire For No Witness bonus tracks; “Fly On the Wall” was Olsen’s contribution to the Bandcamp-only anti-Trump Our First 100 Days compilation.

And even if you haven’t heard them before, these songs will grace your heart like traditional folk tunes of old. Olsen has a knack for writing melodies that seep into your being, and these 12 must be the most consuming of her lot.

It is with warmth that these narratives sound time-old. On the languorous “Tougher Than the Rest,” Olsen sounds as though she is on her way to disappearing off the end of a phone line, and it is charming. On home-recorded demo “Sans,” she really is thinking about calling. “Wish it were as easy as just picking up the phone,” she sings, her words slurred and drawn out with a Dolly Parton-like whine.

Through this beauty comes a wonderful wickedness. She “wants to be special/Something like your mother” (“Special”), but this comes through gritted teeth. Most pleasing of all is when Olsen focuses on her core. “And I’ll give it to you/Give it all to you/When I first find it in myself,” she sings on “Sweet Dreams,” before a soulful endeavour of a roof-raising cry.

Unlike the limitations that come with a tight studio album, each Phases track has space to fulfil its own purpose. The tracks sway about a bit, and, in doing so, make for a vast and emotionally compelling collection of songs. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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