What does Angel Olsen sound like?
Bluesy alt-rocker leans into her softer and calmer side.
The review of Angel Olsen – Forever Means
Following on from her 2022 album ‘Big Time’ in every sense of the word, ‘Forever Means’ comprises of four more songs that were recorded during the same period. Whether they were intentionally held back for a separate addendum or not is unclear, but this EP has two clear trains of thought. The first is to continue an exploration of love and grief – the main themes of ‘Big Time’. The second is to evoke a feeling of still searching for something.
In taking the sultry crooner tone direction with ‘Big Time’, this intimate and relaxed release sees Angel Olsen in a reflective mood. The opening track ‘Nothing’s Free’ has so much organ and open space, it has a gospel hue to it. Angel’s vocals stay soft and sensitive throughout, keeping a warm but chequered feeling. Sax solos and open drum echoes leave the listener lingering on her tendrils. It is an outlier on the EP stylistically but reaffirms Olsen’s blues credentials. It’s something that’s laid bare in the wilted blooms of electric guitar on the title track. Whilst the guitar is plugged, it is barely noodling each string pluck and Angel laments about what forever really means. It’s the core question of all these songs and you can hear her pondering thoughts through every vocal creak and wane. It’s a beautifully understated piece that will be a firm fan favourite.
‘Time Bandits’ is more traditionally an alt-rock set-up. We have Angel’s textbook loud vocal treatments alongside a very breezy and open song arrangement. It reminds me of earlier Olsen work and for some reason Kate Bush’s ‘Aerial’ album. I think the latter reference revolves around its breezy and light production. There is no hurry to reach a climax and I think that’s the point. It’s the musical idea of being trapped in a moment, but a safe one. Closing track ‘Holding On’ is the big rock finale. There is a thick and beautiful string arrangement backing up a pensive and defiant beat and guitar style. You can hear the bombastic symphonic tinges from ‘All Mirrors’ peeking through the curtain as guitar and string arrangement take turns jamming off each other and it brings a needed drama to the collection.
Fans of Angel Olsen will find a lot to enjoy in this EP. It contains a softer and spacious side to her we’ve rarely seen. Whilst you’ll definitely get more out of it if you pair it up with ‘Big Time’ to get the full picture, this isn’t a bad place to join the journey either.
Recommended track: Forever Means
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