Angel Olsen – My Woman
By Bobby Beebe
Angel Olsen’s 2014 release Burn Your Fire For No Witness has been described most commonly as a folk album. This makes sense given her previous work as backing vocalist for William Oldham’s Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy project. According to this track record, Olsen’s latest release, My Woman, should have fallen in the same realm. However, from the release of the first single, “The Intern” it became apparent that Olsen was moving forward to bigger, but not necessarily better things. “The Intern” kicks everything off, a synth-heavy uber-romantic ballad, setting the tone for the rest of the album which relies heavily on long, soulful ballads about love and heartbreak. While the ballads are nice, it is in the moments that break from these trends where the album really finds its footing.
Take, for example, “Give it Up”, a grungy love letter to an ex which seems to be made of equal parts Nirvana and Grandaddy. The song is short, sweet, and fun, an instant toe-tapper and the record’s most infectious song. “Give it Up” is the second in a series of three songs on the record (along with “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Not Gonna Kiss You”) which stand out because of their quick tempo and loud guitars. These are songs that seem vaguely connected to her previous work, but which push the limits of her influence, recycling sounds from early Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, The Pastels, and the Talking Heads.
The result of the juxtaposition between the fast paced, short guitar rock of the first half of the record and the slow, drawn out, ballad-heavy pop of the second is a sort of imbalance. On both sides Olsen seems to be moving in new directions, however, one of those directions seems to hold more promise. Overall the redundancy of the last five tracks on the record weigh down the project, but not quite enough to overshadow the greatness of the first five. My Woman plays a little confused and a lotta boring, but the songs that stick out do so for all the right reasons.
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