Album Review
My Woman

My Woman
by Angel Olsen


Review Date
12th October 2016
Reviewed by
Louisa Kasza

Angel Olsen’s third studio offering My Woman is a sustained release of emotion that feels as cathartic to the listener as the process of making it must have been for Olsen herself. In terms of musical arrangement, the 10-song record is deceptively minimal, but on repeat it yields varying textures – a jukebox in an echoey Twin Peaks tavern, a country Cocteau Twins, a sober Courtney Love, a drunk PJ Harvey. This surface sparseness, however, makes room for the album’s star instruments: Olsen’s brain, the originator of lyrics so devastatingly simple as to move past cliché towards profundity; and her voice, the medium for those lyrics, which vibrates with emotion and occasionally with vibrato.

While My Woman can be seen as a continuation of the move away from her alt-country roots first heard in 2014’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness, the album also offers conciliation between Olsen’s folksy past and her poppier present. The St Louis native confidently reaffirms her interest in the deconstructed DNA of folk and country music in unexpected ways: less banjo and more overblown emotion à la Dolly Parton or Tammy Wynette, and a definite sense of narrative. Individual tracks seem to repeat the same basic yet successful story arc, in which the aforementioned sparse instrumentation gradually gives way to soaring fuzzed-out finales as Olsen ups the emotional ante. Go ahead and try not to get swept along on the tide of My Woman’s masterful storytelling. In a musical landscape where only the most jaded cynicism can approach coolness, Olsen’s old-school display of emotion feels refreshingly uncool.


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