When an artist as bold and commanding as Angel Olsen sings, you listen.
Hot off the release of her brand new album, All Mirrors, on Jagjaguwar, Angel Olsen touched down in New Orleans to stun a captivating full house at the Civic Theatre with back to back new tracks.
Angel Olsen is a brilliant singer/songwriter, capable of exploding in emotive bursts of anguish and catharsis simply with her voice and guitar. As a long time fan getting acquainted with the maximalist musings of her new style, I was so excited to watch her take the stage with not just a drummer, bassist, rhythm guitarist and keyboardist, but also a violinist and cello player.
Olsen recorded All Mirrors with not just her studio band, but also a 12-piece orchestra that lent itself to giving her new songs a fiery grandiosity previously nonexistent in her quaint, country tinged melancholia. However, standout new songs like show opener “New Love Cassette”, “Lark” and the album’s title track were bathed in such lush instrumentation and palpable emotion that I couldn’t help but be captivated from the start.
Of course, Angel Olsen didn’t hold back from giving us some fond nostalgia of songs past. She cleared the stage of her bandmates and ended the set with “Iota”, a truly beautiful and skeletal cut from her album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness. It was a stunning moment of forlorn innocence, a reminder for the audience of a time when Angel Olsen was just a wide eyed girl with a big voice eager to be heard. That big voice was in full swing when performing “Shut Up Kiss Me”, a stellar track from her celebrated 2016 album MY WOMAN. A blistering lovelorn mix of country blues and Pixies distortion, it was an audience favorite, and I was screaming all of the words along with everyone else in the crowd.
Finally being able to see Angel Olsen live was a bit of a watershed moment for me. I went through high school with her albums constantly in rotation, and there was always a lyric for any and all feelings in my angst-filled, lovesick heart. It had never really occurred to me that while her music was helping me grow, she was growing too, as a musician, and as a human being. Watching her up there, belting her absolute heart out, I felt a connection to not just Angel Olsen the musician, but to Angel Olsen the dynamic and honest person, whose promise and talent only continued to amaze me as the barrier between artist and listener crumbled in front of me.
Angel Olsen controlled the stage with the poise, passion, and bravado of a veteran. She had the retro mysticism of Stevie Nicks and the proto Riot Grrl power of Patti Smith. While she continues to grow as an artist, I look forward to loving more of her music for years to come and can’t wait for my next opportunity to watch her own the stage.
If you have the chance to catch her on the All Mirrors Tour, I can’t recommend it enough. It was a blissful, expressive, enveloping concert for the ages, one that I’ll remember for a very long time!