There is a certain type of artist that has the ability to convey the exceptionally complicated emotions that we all feel in the most seemingly effortlessly of ways. The rollercoaster of emotions that we all feel on a daily basis can’t always be summed up as simply just happy or sad or mad. It’s usually a whiplash of all of these basic feelings distilled from each of our complex perspectives. Angel Olsen has become an artist that can capture and transmit these complexities in the most simply effective of ways.
On her new album, Big Time, Olsen paints a picture of what it’s like to accept oneself through the dizzying highs and lows and our human experience. After coming out to her family, embracing the love of a new partner and going through the intense grief of losing her parents, Olsen crafted the songs that make up Big Time to help illuminate and clarify these intense highs and lows. It’s a testament to her skills as an artist but also as an observer of, not only the people around her but also of herself to be able to present all of this so openly.
The evolution of Olsen’s artistry is on display throughout Big Time. Eschewing the synths and electronic leaning nature of her last EP Aisles and the wonderful In Mirrors, Olsen and co producer Jonathan Wilson (Father John Misty, Dawes) have taken a more organic approach to the record. Bathing the opener, “All The Good Times”, in lush Hammond organ and horns reminiscent of the Memphis style soul that graced Cat Power’s The Greatest, while also retaining the burning of Olsen’s previous work. It all comes across as thoughtful and delicate yet with the yearning she has become known for. “Guess I had to be losin’ to get here on time,” Olsen sings on the albums title track. The song doesn’t detail the trauma she’s gone through to get to where she is in her life right now but celebrates the place she ended up. Written with her partner, “Big Time” is awash in the type of high romance that most of us yearn for. All of this feels like Olsen has turned a new chapter in her career. One of the things that jumps out constantly throughout the albums running time is just how fresh all of it sounds. By the time we get to the records closer, the epic “Chasing The Sun”, the Olsen we are hearing now still sounds like the Olsen we initially fell for but in a place where she is fully comfortable in her skin. The songs rising crescendo belies the playfulness of her lyrics as she sings, “Write a postcard to you / when you’re in the other room/ I’m just writing to say that I can’t find my clothes / If you’re lookin for something to do” and it’s all so beautiful.
The journey that Olsen has been on has taken her to this exact place in time. A place where she’s accepting and comfortable yet retains the fire that has marked the work she’s down in the past. All of this comes through so wonderfully crystal clear in these songs. Big Time is a record about the highs and lows we all go through, perfect ally contextualized through her own perspective to come out inherently relatable and deliciously enjoyable in every way.
Pre-order Big Time by Angel Olsen HERE