Songs of an Angel
Angel Olsen's voice shudders, unlike fear but similar to the
It is distant, rippling in falsetto chords and guileless lyrics, like an perpetual mid-vanishing.
Olsen will be performing at Espresso News Friday, Nov. 16. The show starts at 9 p.m. with Abraham Leonard and Brandon Holdt. Olsen will play around 10:30 p.m. Cover is $5.
This show nears the close of her tour to promote her latest album, “Half Way Home,” released Sept. 4 by Bathetic Records. Her first album, “Strange Cacti,” was released April of last year.
The songs on “Strange Cacti” sound more processed and ghostly. Olsen said that though she holds her first album “very dear,” her voice and outlook has undeniable evolved on “Half Way Home.”
“Half Way Home” is a string of 11 songs, each a different breed of folk.
Olsen produced the album with Emmett Kelly, who layered over her guitar tracks with his own electric guitar, bass, nylon acoustic and most of the drums.
“We both discussed ideas together,” Olsen said, “but he is a huge part of why that album came together in the way that it did.”
Olsen's voice has the quiet restraint of Lana Del Ray and the soft soulfulness of Barbra Streisand. She has been compared to Edith Piaf, Connie Converse and Nini Nastasia.
As a child, Olsen was adopted into a large family in St. Louis. At age 16, she was playing guitar and singing on the streets, in cafés and at house parties.
“I used to play at this place called The Creepy Crawl downtown,” she said. “It was the nastiest, most real place you could imagine. That place was the beginning, and it was so sketchy, yet everyone loved it.”
But her chosen folk genre wooed her because of its diversity of feeling.
“I enjoy how open it is, that experiencing this genre or however you choose to see it can be like reading a passage or a book or realizing the world is quieting down,” she said.
Olsen said that in her childhood, she wrote songs about “birds and trees and stuff” out of the “need to identify with something.”
Now she writes for fulfillment and furtherance.
“It's how I move on to other things,” she said. “When I can articulate situations or ideas, there is this undeniable rush and feeling of relief that occurs.”
Her songs seem to be vocalized during an intensely close feeling, and through their simplicity, they are reverential.
In “Half Way Home's” opening track, entitled “Acrobat,” Olsen sings, “I want to be made out of love, I want to be made into life. I love the way you take a walk and all the things that you see with your eyes. Oh, to be that distant thought – some growing meaning in your mind.”
In the closing song, “Tinniest Seed,” she sings, “When did the time become something that I fear? And now as I disappear, someone else becomes real. As real as the smallest scar born into a child – it's known that the tinniest seed is both simple and wild.”
But Olsen said that her lyrics are less of a present experience and more of time-lapsed visitation.
“In ways, I even attempt to morph back into a setting where they once existed more tangibly, more closely,” she said.
She said that “many things” incite her songs, and sometimes she does not even recognize the connection or the rightness until afterward.
But she hopes that her accidentally hallowed writing, people can relate, knowing "they aren't totally alone in their misery or in their happiness."
For more information or to purchase a record, visit http://www.batheticrecords.com/half_way_home. Olsen's music can also be found on Facebook and YouTube.
Espresso News is located at 267 Howard St. in downtown Boone. For more information, call (828) 264-8850