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Review: Angel Olsen drops enchanting new LP, Phases

Shine on you crazy diamond

From humble beginnings performing in St. Louis coffee shops, singer/songwriter Angel Olsen spent years perfecting her craft.

She released her debut album, Strange Cacit, back in 2010 via cassette tape, and the rest is history.

Angel OlsenHer newest album, Phases is absolutely lovely. Truly a treat for her longtime fans and those just discovering her music alike.

“Fly On Your Wall” gives the listeners their first taste of what to expect from Olsen and her new album.

With a steady, slow tempo, the song sets a solemn yet dreamy tone as Olsen’s beautiful vocals tug at the heartstrings.

The lyrics are poetic and somewhat cryptic, yet relatable on a deeper level. “I found a feeling inside, or should I say it found me,” sings Olsen early in the track.

There are so many elements to be explored here; affection from afar, the way feelings can come out of nowhere, and so much more. It truly is an interesting song that warrants multiple listens.

“All Right Now” has a soothing vibe that is pleasing on the ears and easy on the heart. The soft, slow flow of the song has a warming effect on the soul, and Olsen’s vocals are absolutely angelic (no pun intended). The instrumentals give the track a glowing, ethereal feel. This is the song to listen to when trying to get into a positive, serene, present headspace.

“Sweet Dreams” immediately hooks listeners with a guitar part that sets the mood and demands attention. While this track is just as enchanting as the others, there’s definitely more power to it.

Impressive vocal control on Olsen’s part mixed with the upbeat melody is a surefire recipe for success, as this song proves.

The transition from “Sweet Dreams” to “California” is a bit sudden, but not unwelcome. After a track as powerful as “Sweet Dreams,” the soft, charming tune and cutely tongue-in-cheek lyrics of “California” is refreshing.

The opening line about a metaphorical California is sure to bring a smile to listeners’ faces. This song is undeniably sweet; a love song to fall in love with if there ever was one.

“How Many Disasters” is one of the most lyrically impressive and crushingly relatable tracks on the album. She slow, sad melody conveys the pain of still being in touch with one’s feelings after suffering heartbreak after heartbreak, and it is heavy.

The lyrics back this up, as when Olsen sings of “all the years [she] spent chasing a meaning,” and “how unfair to have a heart that’s still beating.” It’s sad, but not an uncommon feeling, and that just serves to bring listeners closer to this song. Because no matter how much someone may swear they just don’t care anymore, nobody can really turn their feelings off.

“Endless Road” closes the album out with an image of infinity, but with a melancholy twist. Olsen acknowledges the “places [she’s] been,” and how her experiences have shaped her, and the way the road always calls her, even if it means she can’t go back to where she began.

This can be taken as a metaphor for life, as so many people wish to return to the carefree, innocent days past, but the only way to go is forward.

It’s not all bad though, as with going through life and gaining experience comes never ending possibilities. There may be love, or adventure, or anything really, and that’s what makes it so grand.

All in all Phases is a truly wonderful album that shows how far Angel Olsen has come as an artist. The lyrics will stick with listeners, and the songs themselves have so much replay value. This is one album worth checking out as soon as possible.

Rating: 4/5

Stream: Phases by Angel Olsen

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