Released on Sept. 2, Angel Olsen’s new album “MY WOMAN” put me to sleep — in the best way possible. Its smooth, dreamy groove swept me away to a dark and wistful state, one that ever-so-gently let me turn off and relax.
The folk-indie star’s first song “Intern” starts low and deep. The lyrics are straightforward and confident — “Doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done / Still got to wake up and be someone.” They are lovesick and longing, strong yet soft. Halfway through the song, she changes style. Her voice takes off, becomes breathy and floats away into a melancholy universe. Her next song “Never Be Mine” is just as wrapped up in love and desire, but it has speed. Its energy is bubbling, invigorating her voice and the song’s rhythm. Each song flows through the same vibe lyrically, allowing them to all make sense together. They build on themselves, driving Olsen’s feelings and emotions directly into the body of the listener. As her album progresses, her love and pain continue as she talks to an unknown “you;” a “you” that seems to have left her in the middle of love.
Musically, the songs have their own personalities, made unique by her varying vocal energy and the accompanying instruments. Sometimes Olsen’s voice is soft and slow (see “Woman”), as if she is speaking to her lover. Other times her voice takes on a killer, airy falsetto. In “Those Were The Days,” her voice is at maximum levels of breathy and the instruments are locked into a jazzy groove.
In “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Not Gonna Kill You,” Olsen’s voice steps into a position of power. In these two songs, the instruments don’t just play a backup part. They add to the song’s emotion, building it and layering it with intensity. Despite these differences, the songs swirl together in their soft sweetness — never too angry, never too happy, always teetering on the tightrope of being in love. They soothe your mind and lay you down into a dream state.
As Olsen’s third album, “MY WOMAN” does not deviate too much from her original sound, but rather solidifies its toxic, dreamy sadness. Its production quality is tight, and its musical hooks suck you in. Through her lyrics, she focuses on love but settles on the importance of self-reliance. By the end of the album, she grows powerful. Her words are poetic and autonomous. They express a range of feelings, the mania of love. “MY WOMAN” is Olsen’s best album yet.
A version of this story appeared in the Sept. 9 print edition. Email Gilchrist Green at [email protected]