Angel Olsen Vinyl, CD & tapes by Angel Olsen at Norman Records
Angel Olsen turned around. In the early days of her career she was making the most swell folk music, her songwriting benefiting from a sparse, low-key environment in which little surrounded her. Dulcet strums and fireside basslines marked Halfway Home, a wonderfully homely record in which Olsen made her voice the centerpiece. It's an incredibly versatile voice -- one so dynamic it moves like scenes from different characters -- so it was a blessing. Few artists find themselves so suited to a folkie setting.
Things changed, though, and to the good: alongside the gnarly filters of producer John Congleton she made Burn Your Fire For No Witness, a wonderful record that showcased Olsen's many modes of songwriting, from meandering and obtuse to punkishly direct. Electric guitars reverberated and drums crashed; it was a triumph. She took these possibilities forward with her for My Woman, a massively different record marked by pristine open spaces and gorgeous band arrangements, taking the homeliness of her early record and casting it into a wider open world. I'm happy to argue for the fiery solos and listlessly emotive choruses of "Sister" as one of the all-time rock songs, as massive and meaningful as any Bruce Springsteen tongue-twister. Bring on the next record from America's finest songwriter.