Though “Forgiven/Forgotten” and “Hi-Five” have been among some of the best songs we’ve heard this year (as well as “Stars” if you were lucky enough to glimpse it before disappearing from the web) I’ve heard the occasional gripe that Angel Olsen’s move toward a bigger and more rock-oriented sound has left behind the burning intensity of her stripped down debut Half Way Home. That should change with her newest single. “White Fire” won’t just shut up naysayers, it’s bound to leave anyone speechless.
“White Fire” makes up possibly the most intimate seven minutes of Olsen’s career. It begins with bare guitar ebbing and flowing as Olsen, in a soft near-monotone, lays out her quiet devastations. The darkness here is overwhelming; images of stumbling through the streets in fear, forgetting where you sleep, all while memories flow into the brain and out the tear ducts. The centerpiece to her incredible second album, “White Fire” is preceded and followed by songs filled with joy, melody, and hope like a cold, terrified child wrapped in a big, fuzzy blanket. Its massive presence makes it an emotional core, and one key line gives the album its title: “If you’ve still got some light in you, then go before it’s gone/burn your fire for no witness, it’s the only way it’s done.” For all the success Burn Your Fire For No Witness is bound to bring Olsen I’m reminded that the line which hit the hardest on her first album was “I thought this time last year I’d be dead.” On “White Fire” Angel Olsen sounds overwhelmingly alive, in all its pain and beauty.
Burn Your Fire For No Witness is out 2/18 via Jagjaguwar.