By: Emily Holtzman
Last week, Angel Olsen released her latest full-length, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, and as someone who has listened thoroughly to Olsen’s previous work, my first impression with this album was that Olsen seems to veer off in a different direction. To start, a full band is used in almost every song, and the recordings sound much more high quality compared to the raw acoustic guitar and wild voice that previously characterized Olsen’s work. While certain fans may immediately reject this change (I admit I did a little at first), it doesn’t take too many listens to realize Olsen’s unbelievably creative and relatable progression throughout her work.
Olsen was vulnerable and wild in her earlier releases, Half Way Home and EP Strange Cacti – and in comparison with this, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, reflects some clear growth for Olsen. She is much more assertive in this album, both with her lyrics and the instruments used. Specifically with, “Forgiven/Forgotten,” “Lights Out,” and “High & Wild,” start out small and simple, but with the use of more instruments (piano, bass, drums) combined with Olsen’s incredible voice, these songs get really big and powerful. Olsen seems to have a new sense of independence in this album, one that allows her to assert her sound and herself. She’s still vulnerable, even miserably lonely at times, but she’s much more confident in this vulnerability.
Olsen also proves her ability to tame her voice in really amazing ways; for a good part of the album, she uses a more restrained voice, but she knows the perfect times to make it wild and let everything out – and this works beautifully. In this way she perfectly asserts herself in this album – she is unsure of almost everything, but at the same time remains collected and melancholic. Olsen has also proved herself to be masterful at writing lyrics. She can writes songs that anyone can connect with, without losing any artistic quality in her words.
While I advocate for everyone to listen to this album, I would also suggest new listeners to go back into Olsen’s previous releases before getting to this. Burn Your Fire for No Witness is an amazing listen on its own, but in listening to her previous work, you really feel like you’re going through a journey with her.
This album will give you chills all over, and you’ll wonder why Angel Olsen knows exactly what’s going on in your life.
Also watch her new video for “Hi-Five” here.
Emily is Originally from St. Louis, MO (cue Nelly lyric) and majoring in English & International Studies. You can hear her play music’s greatest ladies every Wednesday from 8-10pm on Who Run the World? Thanks to our cool new website, she now gets to combine her two greatest pastimes: opinions and writing.