The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday October 18th


Music Review: Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen
Burn Your Fire For No Witness

When Angel Olsen took the the shadowy stage at the Fletcher Opera Theatre during last year’s Hopscotch festival, she was met with reverent silence. Solely accompanied by her reverb-soaked Danelectro guitar, Olsen’s high and lonesome wavering was amplified but the venue’s airy stillness.

As if to replicate the sparse nature of her recorded output, the silence was her friend.

And now with the release of Burn Your Fire For No Witness, her first effort for indie giant Jagjaguwar, Olsen disrupts that silence. Thanks to a scrappy backing band, Olsen steps out of the forlorn shadows, throwing her commanding voice into a more combustable formula.

But make no mistake, Burn Your Fire For No Witness is not an extreme stylistic departure.
The tracks still assume a Southern tinge and Olsen’s high register still dominates the mix, but the mood here has shifted.

Take “Hi-Five” for example. The track employs a melody reminiscent of classic country, but adopts a newfound edge. The loneliness in Olsen’s wailing recalls not crestfallen contemplation but utter frustration. Olsen’s feelings haven’t changed, but how she approaches them certainly has.

Elsewhere, jarring tom-and-snare hits culminate in an explosive conclusion to “High & Wild.”

“Unfucktheworld,” a solo acoustic number, meanders to a somber refrain. “I am the only one now,” Olsen asserts with a subtle soreness that carries over into “Forgiven/Forgotten,” the album’s most aggressive track. Here, thunderous floor toms are cathartic, relieving the brooding melody.

The album showcases a more confrontational Olsen. Whereas her previous releases welcomed the listener into her woeful inner dialogues, Fire is much more upfront.

On Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Olsen isn’t howling from a distance, she is screaming in your face.

Chris Powers

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