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August 24, 2016 / bloggenstatt

Shoulder Angel

With her latest album, My Woman, the consistently excellent Angel Olsen stays, well, consistently excellent.

The folk-rocker with the inimitable voice has put out another strong release, and one I prefer to 2014’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness.

My Woman essentially functions as two five-song albums with the first five songs being shorter, punchier rock-folk songs.

Whichever distinct side of an album houses the instant-classic “Shut Up Kiss Me” was always destined to be my favorite. It’s just an absolutely flawless blend of perfect bubblegum pop, tortured torch song and lo-fi rock.

“Shut Up Kiss Me” is the obvious standout, but really everything after the de facto intro, “Intern” to the fade out of”Not Gonna Kill You”is superb folk-tinged rock from an artist with an utterly singular vocal delivery.

Everything in that stretch of the album has a distinctive ’60s influence. It ranges from the girl group groove and sentiments of “Shut Up and Kiss Me”, to the early Beatles unrequited love song feel of “Never Be Mine” to the classic rock dual guitar twang of the flat out stomper “Give It Up”. It all builds  toward wonderful screaming release and undulating guitar spasms toward the end of “Not Gonna Kill You” which conjures up some serious Grace Slick vibes.

Thoroughly outstanding stuff.

The spacier, longer second half has its merits as well.

The slow, country simmer of “Heart Shaped Face”is incredibly listenable, even if it bothers the hell out of me that there’s no hyphen in that compound modifier.

“Sister” is an absolute epic. It keeps building and building and teasing the guitar heroics to come before satisfyingly boiling over.

Album closer,”Pops”, is a sort of distorted John Lennon-esque piano song that doesn’t quite reach the moony feeling of a ballad feels like a perfect place to end the album.

All 10 songs boast a foible, melody or moment of triumph that demands multiple listens. There’s really nothing justifiably skippable even if aside from “Sister” nothing in the back half really approximates the thrills of the first five songs.

And those first five songs are an unbridled joy to revisit way too often.

 

 

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