Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
- Kate Walker
- 19 September 2019
Fourth full-length album from the American singer-songwriter and musician is melodramatic yet searingly truthful
When Angel Olsen released 'All Mirrors', the lead single from her fourth full-length album of the same name, the world was presented with something enormous in both artistic vision and sheer sonic density. 'All Mirrors' is built on a tower of synths and opulent strings; a cinematic statement of a marked new direction in sound, accompanied by a gothic video of Olsen channelling Kate Bush, all chiffon and layers of black silk. Then came 'Lark' – a track that is symphonic in structure. Again an opaque wall of strings dominates the sound, sweeping and trembling around Olsen's unmistakable voice telling a story of loss, defiance and rebirth.
The release of All Mirrors single by single has unfolded like a gripping narrative released episodically, by an artist who is no stranger to self-reinvention. If the first two songs weren't enough of a test of emotional stamina, the goosebump moments just keep coming. 'Impasse' is a pendulum arc of stormy emotion that precedes 'Tonight', a tender and delicate waltz, before 'Endgame' washes in like a haar of breathy whispers and brushed snares. The versatility of Olsen's voice reach new extremes – powerful belting, sugary crooning, and that trademark tight, vintage vibrato all enthral equally.
The process of creating an album of this magnitude had multiple stages. Olsen originally planned to release a dual record – a 'full band' version paired with a set of completely stripped back recordings of the same tracks. After working with renowned producer John Congleton (who was also a collaborator on Olsen's debut album), as well as orchestral arrangers Ben Babbitt and Jherek Bischoff, Olsen realised this album was taking bold and unexpected directions.
Self-aware yet abstract, consistently melodramatic yet searingly truthful; All Mirrors always comes with a paradoxical mirror-image. 'Drama is something that surrounds my world and always has,' Olsen admits on the album's notes, 'I'm at least happy that I've learned to write it down.'
All Mirrors is out Fri 4 Oct on Jagjaguwar.