Thursday, November 15, 2012

Angel Olsen

This lady's got a really interesting, arresting voice, which I may have gone slightly over the top in trying to describe...the review's from today's Dusted.

Angel Olsen
Halfway Home

Angel Olsen was the behind-the-scenes heroine of Bonnie Prince Billy’s last album, Wolfroy Comes to Town, her voice a luminous aura, a down-home cackle, a blues-y scrape and roll, a sacred harp harmony around Oldham’s cracked tenor. Here, on her second solo album (counting limited-release, cassette-only Strange Cacti from 2011), she brings that instrument out in front, singing 11 emotionally-freighted original songs, with the merest hint of instrumentation — strummed guitar, terse bass, occasional drums and pump organ.

Olsen’s vocal technique is unorthodox, guttural, nearly feral at times. She has evidently never had a singing lesson, and that’s not a complaint, because her wildness is utterly compelling. She often starts in a matter of fact way, murmuring breathy melodies against a backdrop of guitar picking. Her “Acrobat,” Halfway Home’s first song, circles in waltz-time, its melody (not too different from Delibes’s “Waltz from Copelia”) side-stepping up the scale, her voice quiet, fresh and unshowy. It sounds like she is standing next to you, maybe to one side, with her breath tickling your ear. Yet, as she rounds the first verse, her voice turns unpredictable, flickering up octaves like a wildfire catching. “I want to be the bed you mess,” she confides, finding a cavernous physicality in her girlish voice, a hollowed, animal-like, bluesy sound that goes straight to your spine and sets off a tingle. There’s something exciting about the way she sings, something predatory and dangerous about the way she soars up into a high note, seizes it, still wiggling with vibrato, and drags it back to earth.


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