Matriarchs of Music | Angel Olsen


Casey Halas, Writer

With the release of Angel Olsen’s new album All Mirrors, it is only appropriate to highlight this amazing artist and her dedication to creating music in its purest form.

Olsen seamlessly integrates the feelings of pain and pleasure into all of her albums. She creates a song for every occasion, making her my go-to artist for when you can’t decide if you want to scream, cry or just be alone. All Mirrors is a breakthrough for Olsen as it takes a far more in-depth approach from these standard themes, channelings them into a feeling of realization and eventual rebirth. 

The first listening experience I had with Olsen was with her album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, which was her first album accompanied by a band, not just as a solo performer. I knew from her previous albums that her music primarily focused around an acoustic/folk sound, which I was expecting right off the bat. However, as I listened to this album, I could see the influences of pop rock, folk and indie present. 

As I drove around my hometown this past lonely winter, the first song I played off of this album was “Stars.” As I heard the opening lines, “I think you like to see me lose my mind / You treat me like a child and I’m angry, blind,” I knew she was describing a person or place that was damaging to her. However, her tone reflects the opposite. Olsen is direct and confident in what she is expressing, and she opens up every listener. 

Her lyrics stem from memories of deep love coming back to haunt her, but eventually teach her something about herself. The way her voice carries throughout the songs on this album can touch even the most cold hearted individual. She can truly make you believe she tore a piece of paper out of your personal diary and turned it into a song just for you. 

In her album, MY WOMAN, released in 2016, Olsen shows a more raw version of herself through her weakest moments. This album focuses on the power of femininity, but also the feeling of an unfulfilling love. From recognizing that the one person you want most in the world will never be yours, to owning your identity and embracing life as it comes, Olsen comes to terms with just how frustrating life can be. Her hit song off of this album, “Shut Up Kiss Me, additionally deals with these frustrations, but in the most romantically embracing way. It is easily one of those songs you will have stuck in your head for hours – whether you like it or not.

All Mirrors is Olsen’s latest masterpiece that includes not only her unique angelic vocals, but also the addition of a background orchestra. As if her vocals weren’t enough to move you to tears, the instrumentals add an extra element of uniqueness to her sound and truly makes you feel like you are listening to a live performance. The album’s seventh track, “Impasse,” brings this uniqueness to the forefront as it includes a build up of soft, high-pitched violins into a crescendo of a full orchestra that is captivating and all the more powerful. This album is a real turning point for Olsen and captures her ability as a multi-talented artist. Olsen’s previous albums have a certain shyness to them where she stays inside the lines of folk and indie.  However, All Mirrors stands out to declare, “Hey, I’m here and I’m ready to break barriers.”

Olsen’s All Mirrors tour has already begun and will be heading to the Royal Oak Music Theatre on November 15th.