angel olsen Phases (CD, £8.25)label: Jag Jaguwar
How does one best describe Angel Olsen? From the lo-fi, sparse folk-melancholy of her 2010 EP, ‘Strange Cacti’, to the electrified, polished rock ‘n’ roll bursting from 2016’s beloved and acclaimed ‘MY WOMAN’, Olsen has refused to succumb to a single genre, expectation or vision. Impossible to pin down, Olsen navigates the world with her remarkable, symphonic voice and a propensity for narrative, her music growing into whatever shape best fits to tell the story. ‘Phases is a collection of Olsen’s work culled from the past several years, including a number of never-before-released tracks. ‘Fly On Your Wall’, previously contributed to the online-only, anti-Trump fundraiser ‘Our First 100 Days’, opens ‘Phases’, before seamlessly slipping into ‘Special’, a brand new song from the ‘MY WOMAN’ recording sessions. Both ‘How Many Disasters’ and ‘Sans’ are first-time listens: home-recorded demos that have never been released, leaning heavily on Olsen’s arresting croon and lonesome guitar. The B-sides compilation is both a testament to Olsen’s enormous musical range and a tidy compilation of tracks that have previously been elusive in one way or another. Balancing tenacity and tenderness, ‘Phases’ acts as a deep-dive for longtime fans, as well as a fitting introduction to Olsen’s sprawling sonics for the uninitiated.
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