Published Feb 18, 2014As Angel Olsen's latest folksy effort, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, suggests, there's really nothing like a little hurt to help stir up songwriting sessions. Heartache haunts the record from the jump, with the sparse and strummed opener "Unfucktheworld" softly summarizing the all-too-common act of putting too much faith into a relationship. But while Olsen lays herself bare on the track, copping to losing her dream in a break up, a backend refrain of "I am the only one now" plays out stronger with every additional coo, acting as a life-rebuilding mantra.
Slow shuffling tunes like "White Fire" and "Iota" and the surprisingly fuzz-dusted rocker "Forgiven/Forgotten" find the singer-songwriter weighing in on a multitude of confusing aspects of love, but there's a rawness to her quivered calls so true that they supersede any maudlin tendencies.
"Stars," meanwhile, plays out as a most melodious primal scream session, with Olsen channeling her rage by screaming at the world around her until the frustration dissipates. At least, that's the concept of the negativity-expunging lyrics; we never actually hear her shouting at ground-bound animals or the stars up in the sky.
The LP's emotional zenith comes late in the game with the equally devastating and uplifting "Enemy." Another stunner assisted by nothing more than a sparse pluck of an acoustic guitar, it first unfurls as a self-flagellating relationship study before Olsen healthily suggests that, despite some sharing some serious feelings, it's time to cut the cord and focus on the future ("I'm lighter on my feet when I've left some things behind," she sighs).
Earlier in the set, Olsen describes the power of getting lost in a song on "Dance Slow Decades." Whether through its most aching moments or the psych-styled Americana explored on "High & Wild" and "Lights Out," there's plenty of high-calibre hypnotism to take hold of you on Burn Your Fire For No Witness. (Jagjaguwar)