Olsen's music transcends genres and generations
Angel Olsen has a voice that could have emerged in any generation, any decade, and she would have been a powerful, unique force.
In an era when mainstream music never has placed less value on creativity and pure ability, Olsen cuts through all of that. Will she ever play on the Grammys or in a featured television spot? Maybe not, but the first time you hear her voice, you're likely to find yourself dead in your tracks, determined to find out who is making those amazing sounds. Try to name any current pop artists who do that to you, and you'll be here all day.
Olsen has crafted her organic sound over the years, playing on the road alongside Bonnie “Prince” Billy and his crew, working on her personal, sometimes nakedly stripped-down arrangements, and figuring out a way to make heartbreak, longing, love, hope, you name it, her way of bloodletting but also ensuring that it connects with her audience. There is something about Olsen's records that grip you inside and squeeze. You just cannot be unaffected.
Debuting with her wonderful, raw “Strange Cacti” (recently re-released by Bathetic), she showed what she could do with her dexterous, full-bodied voice and simple musical arrangements. If you own a record player, get this on vinyl, sit down on a calm Saturday night, and let the sounds permeate your senses. It's the best listening experience you can have with the record.
Olsen followed up last year with the stunning “Half Way Home,” one of 2012's best records in any genre and one that showed her becoming something of an enigma. Right away, you're gripped by the incredible “Acrobat,” where her voice quivers but also explodes like it's swinging in circles, embracing dizzying motions, and coming down with the world swirling. “Lonely Universe” is cool like a summer afternoon and emotionally deep, and “The Waiting” is drop-dead timeless, like it could run over the final credits of a particularly disturbing edition of “Mad Men” with people wondering how an artist from that time period could have gone unnoticed until now.
The folks at Jagjaguwar signed Olsen for her upcoming third release, which is in the works, and the way she is progressing could remind some listeners of the path Sharon Van Etten walked. But before her next record drops, you have a chance to see Olsen hush a room Tuesday night at the Warhol. This is a special artist, a once-in-a-lifetime talent, in an intimate setting where each ghost that exists in her work will have a chance to haunt. Olsen's music could not come more highly recommended, and any chance to see her at this budding stage in her career has to be deemed a treasure of an experience.
Brian Krasman is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steel Valley cancels classes, plans for teachers strike
- McKeesport backs effort to rebuild housing in Seventh Ward
- Homestead Bottom Dollar’s fixtures, equipment head to auction
- Suspect arrested in fatal West Mifflin shooting
- Mon-Yough lawmakers split on Wolf’s budget plan
- Mon-Yough communities continue recovery efforts from high waters
- Members of Steel Valley, Twin Rivers councils of governments to keep jobs in merger
- Charges held for court in robbery of Elizabeth gas station with machete
- Mon-Yough Laurels & Lances
- Ice jam wipes out McKeesport’s marina
- Seuss stories inspire ‘math in a hat’