Angel Olsen

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.

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Comments (11)
  1. Gah. This will be my new “stand in the shower for far too long while listening to heart-wrenching music” song, for those of you keeping track.

  2. Amazing. Love all the new songs. Just bought two tix to her show in Philly in May. This and the new Spoon record are the ones I am looking forward to most. Moonface is my favorite so far this year. But, damn, the new Olsen songs are just amazing.

    • Wait, Moonface has a new album already?! Or we are talking “Julia…”?

      And yeah, this one, Beck’s latest, and the new St. Vincent have me super excited for music in 2014. Plus, new Spoon and potentially new Outkast and new Kendrick and new Mastodon…

  3. Katie  |   Posted on Feb 7th +4

    Wow, awesome. I had never listened to Angel Olsen before “Hi-Five” was released, and now I’m hooked. This song reminds me a lot of Sibylle Baier.

  4. I hate to be ‘that guy’, but that “bare acoustic guitar ebbing and flowing” is actually an electric hollowbody. Because, journalism.

  5. I was kind of afraid when I heard “Forgiven/Forgotten” that she might be eschewing the spare, weird acoustic thing she did so well for something more indie music blogosphere-friendly. Glad to be proven wrong, as this album is a fucking fantastic piece of work that sees her doing some of the stuff that worked so well on the last album (see: this song) as well as expanding her palate in some pretty exciting ways. So it’s great, basically.

  6. I can’t help but adopt the foetal position when I listen to this. I’m an emotional wreck.

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