After writing three complementary reviews, superlatives about songstress Angel Olsen are running short. Not that they aren't deserving but the constant gushing about how talented Olsen is probably doesn't come across as terribly interesting. Well, sorry, but she's done it again. With already a stunning EP and outstanding full-length to her credit, Olsen manages to outdo herself. With her first release, "Burn Your Fire For No Witness", on new label Jagjaguwar, Olsen serves up her most diverse work to-date.
Familiar, folk territory is where Olsen has made her bones and is still a big part of the record. But it's the translation of her folk sensibilities to a more rock milieu that prove to be even more remarkable. "Forgiven/Forgotten" is elevated garage rock tinged with sweetness. "Stars" packs a pair of powerful crescendos where her band swells and Olsen sings in self-harmony. The first peak at the 1:12 mark is goosebump-inducing.
Not that Olsen has suddenly become a garage punk. The softer side rears its beautiful head all over the album. Tracks like the evocative "White Fire" and "Unf***theworld" carry the acoustic torch. "Lights Out" and "Dance Slow Decades" are empirically entrancing tracks that remind favorably of Marianne Faithfull. Remember the goosebumps from earlier? They recur at the first hint of Olsen's voice on the record's denouement, "Windows". A more gorgeous song simply doesn't exist. The music puts a figurative spotlight on its creator. Her voice comes across gentle and yet powerful, a beam of luminescence that answers the track's pressing question, "What so wrong with the light?". Not a damned thing.
"Burn Your Fire For No Witness" will be released on Feb 18 through Jagjaguwar Records. You can preview four songs on Olsen's performance on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts.