Angel Olsen All Mirrors Jagjaguwar
Angel Olsen has always been in a constant state of metamorphosis. Since 2012, she’s transformed from the stranger lo-fi intimacy of debut Half Way Home to fuzzy full band intensity and onward to rockabilly retro on 2016’s My Woman. Now, on her fourth album, she’s found her grandest form yet.
Backed by a 14-piece orchestra, All Mirrors finds Olsen’s voice bolstered by cinematic string whirlwinds and huge thunderclaps of sound. On the themes underpinning the album, Olsen has spoken about deconstructing illusion and confronting reality, about “facing yourself and learning to forgive what you see”, which makes the record’s drama so fitting – after all, self- acceptance can be a fraught struggle. On the near-seven- minute Lark, her beautiful wail is swallowed by pounding, poised percussion and string runs as urgent as her voice. What It Is, meanwhile, starts spritely enough, full of cheerful melodies and elastic bounce, but is ripped apart by dagger-sharp violins as she delivers the killer line: “You just wanted to forget that your heart was full of shit.”
Not everything is as frank. Tonight is arresting in its elegance, Olsen’s often turbulent vocals restrained as she leads the orchestra through something worthy of soundtracking an Audrey Hepburn film. Her classicism is mixed with invention too, the graceful slow build of Endgame rising through muddied drums and cluttered arrangements like a mist clearing. Resplendent and theatrical, All Mirrors is Olsen’s most ambitious and best album yet. She might not settle in this sound for long, but its power will remain long after she’s moved on.