Review: Angel Olsen – My Woman (USA, 2016)

At her 4th studio album, the US based, singer, guitarist and song-writer Angel Olsen seems to have reached the turning point of her career. The maturity and the goodness disclosed by My Woman are nothing less than top-notch in its genre, still for anyone else who’s not into it…well, just “shut up kiss me”! No, I mean, follow me to discover this delightful gem.

Two are the things that strike once you get into this lovely disc. The first one is the velvety, enchanting, slightly nasal and somehow wild voice of Mrs Olsen. It mutates in every song, showing multiple shades of her timbre, but it always remains coherent and well amalgamated with the mood of each tune. The other one is the unbelievable ‘50s feeling this album holds within. My Woman, by its side, has the capability to appear both vintage and innovative. Where jazzy-like tunes, as Those Were the Days, are perfectly placed side by side with a dream pop ballad, Intern, or a lo-fi closure as Pops. Every single influence, every little detail has been put together exquisitely well, and that is the wonder of this record.

Intern kicks in with a “merry go round sounding” synth that accompanies Angel’s warm voice softly singing “I don’t care what the papers say | It’s just another intern with a résumé | I am going to fall in love with you someday | I’m gonna fall in love and run away.” And that is the disillusioned and miserable kind of love My Woman is about. Nirvana strummings are clearly a reference when Given It Up spins: like if a black and white version of Kurt Cobain tried playing an old Dolly Parton’s country love song.

But when the record’s approaching its second half the speed drastically falls. Here the jazzy influences and the melancholic side of Olsen’s songwriting become stronger.

The winning strike answers to the call of Sister, Woman and the enchanting Those Were the Days in which a tender-touch Rhodes piano helps and reinforces the verse: “Those were the days | Nothing to lose and nothing to find” while the track closes towards the heart-wrecking Woman which languidly turns the air into fire, growing heavier, fuzzier and more pensive as the minutes go by. The atonal rawness of a distorted guitar solo leads us out this uncoloured, depressing vision whereas Olsen’s murmurings slowly fade out. The last tune, Pops, is the most stirring yet a bit over the top as the vocal spits out words over a crude lo-fi piano lingering in saturated air. Whilst I said the whole record sounds extremely 50s, the latter tune has an elder feel. I’d say it would be 20s, where you’d have seen those fur dressed ladies moaning before a black grand piano in cigarettes smoke bathed clubs. Looks depressing, doesn’t it?

I must say, but you already knew this, I’m impressed by Angel Olsen’s latest fatigue. My Woman is brilliant on each and every corner, still it stays well rooted in the shady, blurred darkness of your room during your most desperate love-loss cries.

Label: Jagjaguwar
Websites: Facebook | Website
Release Date: September 2016
Reviewed by Matteo “Teo” Gruppi

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About Matteo "Teo" Gruppi 120 Articles
TSL co-founder, co-owner, editor, CEO, reviewer, interviewer and writer. Basically I do a lot of stuff and I can’t get anything done well. I was born in 1991 and started loving music since 1981. Got my very first band in high school and now I play as a lonely dumbass in 3 projects: Chiral, Il Vuoto and |||. I listen to every kind of music as long as it is good and intense. Favourite genres include: everything as long as it’s good! (but also folk, black metal, 70-80’s rock and post-rock).

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