Angel Olsen – My Woman

Faced with writing the follow up to 2014’s lavishly praised Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Angel Olsen could have been forgiven for taking the safe option, consolidating the success of that album with an identikit blast of indie confessional.

That record is one of those career defining albums, the kind that sets the bar unreasonably high.  In this situation, wearied artists inevitably face a lifetime of dealing with ‘it’s good, but it’s not as good as…….’ with each subsequent release.

Angel Olsen has dealt with this challenge in the best possible way – she hasn’t just matched that most illustrious album, she has gone and made a better one.  My Woman confirms that  ‘Burn Your Fire..’ was no one off – it’s a truly brilliant record that retains some of the spiky edge of its predecessor but introduces something wholly new to the party.

It’s very much a record of two halves;  after the chilly, Twins Peaks –ish opener ‘Intern’, My Woman revisits the scuzzy guitars of ‘Burn Your Fire..’ on songs like ‘Not Gonna Kill You’ and the wonderful bubblegum pop of  ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’.  The teaser videos for the new album showcase a different side to Olsen – the tinsel wigs, the trips to the rollerdrome playing around with our preconceived image of her as indie angst queen.

It’s on the second half of this record where Olsen pushes off in a different direction. Lengthy, languid tracks like ‘Sister’ and ‘Woman’ are sparse, intriguing delights while ‘Those Were The Days’ is pure indie soul;  Olsen’s breathy whispered vocal  winding its way around a lazy, dreamy groove.

The beautiful ‘Heart Shaped Face’ is another stunner; like most of the songs on the second half of the record, it doesn’t have the same immediacy as earlier songs but will ultimately be one of the tracks you frequently revisit.

My Woman is a record that strays beyond the boundaries, pushes the limits. It is a thrilling new chapter in the story of one of our very best contemporary song-writers and is a strong contender for album of the year.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)