Walking on thin ice is always tricky. Only a brave person can do it
Bridget Soares

21:25 17th October 2016

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North Carolina-based singer-songwriter Angel lsen has decided to take a leap of faith this year with her third album My Woman.

Angel clearly wanted to break away from the indie folk sweetheart image that has helped to build her fanbase after the release of her 2014 critically acclaimed breakthrough album Burn Your Fire for No Witness, and reinvent herself.

The new and upgraded Angel Olsen wears a hip Sia-ish silver wig and no longer focuses strictly on guitar in her rrangements. This is particularly observed in the bookend songs of the album – the opening synth-driven “Intern” and the closing “Pops” which was clearly written for piano.

There is a catch with walking on thin ice, it is important to know where exactly you're going. Otherwise, the venture seems pointless, and the venturer shows herself simply as an attention-seeking ego-tripper: Look at me! I'm not afraid!

Clearly, Angel is clueless about her desired destination. The uncontrolled experiments at times take her to the artistic domains of Lana Del Rey or Neko Case, which is not exactly what one wants to hear on an Angel Olsen album. Through most of the album, Angel sings about how she thrives for appreciation: “I ain't giving up tonight / Even if you walk around / As though you think you're right”. But we don't know which Angel we are supposed to appreciate!

Most of the album sounds like a potpourri of jam sessions with no clear song structures and lyrics repeating without end or reason. One might argue that this is a fresh approach, except it's not. It's been there since the psychedelic 60s (Doors, anyone?)

In terms of songwriting, you hear the same Angel Olsen approach that you've heard before: Angel gets obsessed with a certain line or idea, which then enmosses with words rather chaotically. On the one hand, it makes the lyrics sound more direct and powerful, but on the other hand, the end-material that goes into your ears tastes sort of half-baked. The song that sounds the most “well-done” on the album is “Those Were the Days” - a pleasant mellow tune with a smooth R&B feel. As for the rest of the album – it may be a little bit of an overstatement, but putting out this kind of album to the fans' attention is an irresponsible thing to do.

Angel Olsen needs to realise that music is as much of a full-time job as any other. It needs to be to be treated with responsibility. A musician is responsible before the audience. They are not obliged to appreciate whatever it is that the musician comes up with, and their expectations are not to be ignored. If the musician does not deliver, the audience simply finds a replacement.

The thing with walking on thin ice is that when it cracks, you fall down, and the cold will not care about your bravery. By cold I mean the cold reception from the audience. The material from My Woman leaves no doubt that it should be a super fun experience to listen to it live. But as for buying the album, however, - it is up to you to decide if you would like to pay your money for 47 minutes of Angel's vocal meditations.

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