To review Angel Olsen’s new album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, I enlisted my new correspondent Andersonville Dan.
Punks: Angel Olsen made the best album I’ve heard this year. I love the diversity of the songs — the transitions from country to pop. It’s a far more exciting album than her 2012 release Half Way Home.
AD: This is a more exciting album than Half Way Home, although let’s be honest, that wouldn’t have taken much. I am a big fan of this album and increasingly of Angel Olsen. I’ll admit that when I first heard Half Way Home, the chirping of her relationship to Bonnie Prince Billy affected my listen. I eventually gave up and listened to his music. But that changed after seeing Olsen at Pitchfork last summer. She was fantastic. The Angel warble is best heard live. It feels like there’s a little less warble on this effort, maybe because Burn Your Fire for No Witness (how great is that title?) has more anger.
Punks: You’re right about the warble. On Half Way Home, it was a flat-out yodel. An endearing yodel but a yodel all the same. The anger is definitely there on this new release, especially compared with the last album. There’s a vitality to Burn Your Fire, a real contrast to some of the sad-sack songs on Half Way Home. By the second song on this new record, you realize this is going to be a much different approach for her. It’s much more sonic than anything she’s put out before. And how about Hi-Five? What a weird, cool song. It’s like a country ballad backed by a psychedelic band.
AD: That song is amazing. It’s definitely like a modern psych remix of an old Emmy Lou Harris song. But the direction is definitely a cool sound, something I think we relate more to St. Vincent. With Olsen’s old-style vocal it makes for quite a contrast. I like how she follows up Hi-Five with the haunting White Fire.
Punks: I love White Fire. I also really dig Stars and High and Wild. I don’t think I’d like the album nearly as much without the uptempo songs. The somber opening track Unfucktheworld is good, too. The sequencing for the first half of the album really works for me.
AD: Stars is my favorite song. What a great start for folk music this year: Angel Olsen, the haunt of Marissa Nadler and the stories of Sun Kil Moon. But I’m looking forward to seeing Stars and the upbeat songs from Burn Your Fire in concert.
Angel Olsen plays Lincoln Hall May 4. Her new album is out today (Tuesday) in the U.S.