'All Mirrors' by Angel Olsen album review for Northern Transmissions


All Mirrors

Angel Olsen

The artistic process is such a mystery. From the moment an artist hatches a plan, an idea is sparked and there begins a journey with no road map. It’s honestly amazing that most creative projects actually get made or, at least, finished. Depending on who the artist is though this kind of creative campaign can be the most fruitful. Angel Olsen is this type of artist. When she was readying her newest collection of songs that make up her latest album All Mirrors, Olsen was actually planning two releases that would come out simultaneously. One that was a totally stripped down bare bones edition of the tracks and one that was fully orchestrated and produced. The idea was that she could go back and forth and would be able to play the songs solo or with a full band. After the tracking started on the fleshed out version of the album and as Olsen got deeper into the creative process, she realized that this was the version of All Mirrors that needed to be released. One that was surprising in it’s sonic evolution, a snapshot of the growth that can occur on the road to discovering where your artistic process will take you and one that is constantly beautiful and shockingly vulnerable.

Angel Olsen has always been a strong songwriter and performer and her personality is so deeply rooted in her songs but there is a boldness to All Mirrors that feels different from her previous releases. The themes Olsen is exploring here, the inability to love, universal loneliness, aren’t necessarily new explorations for her work but here they feel like they are taking on new meanings, as if Olsen herself has rooted into the thick of these emotions and has come out on the other side able to fully transcribe how they felt. It’s almost as if in an effort to get us all to be able to move past these feelings. From the opening string strains of “Lark”, Olsen sounds confident, singing her truths directly to you. Her voice remains impeccable. A blend of coy charisma, subtle opulence and devastating range. Olsen worked again with producer John Congleton, whom she collaborated with on her breakout 2014 album Burn Your Fire For No Witness. The pairing seems to be quite the fruitful one. The sounds on the album practically leap out of your speakers. From the ethereal beauty of songs like “Too Easy” with it’s all encompassing synths to the spaced out “What It Is” and the strings that explode up from the languid drum groove, practically in danger of overtaking the proceedings but never do. Even with the newer sonic palette that Olsen and Congleton have crafted with this release, Olsen’s vocals remain the centrepiece of every song. The thing that tethers the listener to what is happening even when the arrangements seem like they will swallow everything up. This is something that highlights “Impasse”, a remarkably vulnerable piece that places Olsen seemingly in the centre of her own sonic storm.

All Mirrors is a record that implores you to spend time with it. This isn’t a one and done for the type of people that need an instant gratification fix. This is something that you can hear the amount care and thought that went into every note and every production choice. Olsen says that in the creation of this record, the journey that she took to complete this artistic endeavour, was that she needed to be her own compass, to learn to trust new faces and to let herself become a stranger so that she could keep moving forward. She says in order to survive, an artist needs to evolve and the evolution she has documented on this latest release is a reminder to every listener that while the artistic process is a mystery, it’s one that can be cathartic, surprising and ultimately a snapshot of the roads you’ve traveled, to look to, when you need to keep moving forward.

review by Adam Fink

All Mirrors is available on October 4th via Jagjaguwar

Angel Olsen

Mon. Oct. 28 – Saxapahaw, NC @ Haw River Ballroom &
Wed. Oct. 30 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes *
Thu. Oct. 31 – Philadelphia, PA @ Franklin Music Hall *
Fri. Nov. 1 – Washington, DC @ Lincoln Theatre *
Mon. Nov. 4 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse *
Tue. Nov. 5 – New Orleans, LA @ Civic Theatre *
Thu. Nov. 7 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s (Levitation) *
Fri. Nov. 8 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater *
Sat. Nov. 9 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Criterion *
Sun. Nov. 10 – Lawrence, KS @ The Granada *
Tue. Nov. 12 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue *
Wed. Nov. 13 – Madison, WI @ The Sylvee *
Thu. Nov. 14 – Chicago, IL @ The Riviera Theatre *
Fri. Nov. 15 – Detroit, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre *
Sat. Nov. 16 – Toronto, ON @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre *
Mon. Nov. 18 – Montreal, QC @ mTelus *
Tue. Nov. 19 – Boston, MA @ Royale *
Thu. Nov. 21 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
Fri. Nov. 22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel *
Sat. Nov. 23 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel ^
Mon. Dec. 2 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren *
Tue. Dec. 3 – San Diego, CA @ The Observatory North Park *
Thu. Dec. 5 – Los Angeles, CA @ Palace Theater *
Fri. Dec. 6 – Los Angeles, CA @ Palace Theater #
Sat. Dec. 7 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater *
Mon. Dec. 9 – Portland, OR @ Roseland *
Tue. Dec. 10 – Vancouver, BC @ The Orpheum Theatre *
Wed. Dec. 11 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre *
Fri. Dec. 13 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot *
Sat. Dec. 14 – Denver, CO @ The Gothic Theatre *
Sun. Dec. 15 – Denver, CO @ The Gothic Theatre *

* = w/ Vagabon
^ = w/ Madi Diaz
& = w/ Lean Year


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