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Burning love for Angel Olsen’s arresting new album

Album review: Angel Olsen’s ‘Burn Your Fire for No Witness’

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Angel Olsen
Burn Your Fire for No Witness
Jagjaguwar

★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

Angel Olsen’s debut, Half Way Home, layered the Midwesterner’s arresting, vaguely discomfiting voice over bare-bones instrumentation. The barren landscape allowed her singing to roam wide and free: intimate and composed at times, stratospheric and untamed at others – sometimes within the same line. But on Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Olsen adds crackling psych-rock heft. “Forgiven/Forgotten” stomps, “Stars” is spiked by squealing organs, and the Hank Williams-referencing “Hi-Five” updates tear-in-beer sadness for the scorched-earth, fuck-it-let’s-party 20-something mindset. Yet distance, disintegration and isolation still proliferate. The haunting meander of “White Fire,” the aching lilt of “Iota” and the austere beauty of “Enemy” balance Olsen’s vocals with the rest of the album’s enhanced sonic landscape. The highlight, however, comes midway through “High & Wild,” when Olsen’s “I’m neither innocent nor wise/When you look me in the eyes/You might as well be blind/Because you don’t see me anymore!” It’s cryptic, sure – but Burn Your Fire for No Witness helps us better understand Angel Olsen and her magnetic, mysterious allure.

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