The Deep Cut Guide to Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen has spent her career skipping between bubbly indie pop and sad emotional folk rock. When her new album All Mirrors comes out October 4, there’s no telling where she’ll land. But maybe looking back at the winding path she’s taken so far might offer a clue.

Angel Olsen’s debut EP Strange Cacti came out in 2010. The intimate folk album was the perfect intro to Olsen’s evocative vocal style. Olsen’s voice soars over delicately picked acoustic guitar and sparse instrumentation. Later that same year, she released her sophomore EP Lady of The Waterpark, six homerecorded covers only available on 100 cassette tapes, also showcasing her vocal abilities.

In 2012, Olsen released her debut LP Half Way Home. With tracks like “Lonely Universe” giving off a sad cowboy vibe and “Free” mirroring the classic melodies of June Carter and The Carter Family, the future began to look very twangy for the Missouri-raised singer.

The same month Half Way Home was released, Olsen joined four other emerging folk/ indie-country musicians to sing for Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s touring band. They hit the road, with Olsen singing under the alias Na Na Narnia, which quickly became known as a power group.

They only stayed together for the tour and in 2013 Olsen released her third EP, Sleepwalker. Though still in the vein of folk, bubbly pop beats and vocal harmonies and effects started to emerge in the melodies. Her following release in 2014, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, continued the trend away from spare, acoustic folk.

Skip to 2016—another big year for Olsen.

In early September, Olsen released her third full-length My Woman. She threw a curveball to her fans with this album, leaving twang behind in favor of dark indie pop. With My Woman, Olsen tries out fuller sounds like synth and pedal steel and explores her ability to yodel while holding a note.

A few weeks after that release and several years after the tour with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, the super group reunited under the name Chivalrous Amoekons to record original indie country blues tracks and 12 covers of the English art punk band The Mekons on an album entitled Fanatic Voyage with proceeds going to the New Orleans charity The Roots of Music.

Even though it’s the only album from Chivalrous Amoekons, it reminded true Olsen fans that despite exploring new sounds with My Woman, she’s in touch with her edgy twang.

For some longtime listeners, the My Woman track “Shut up Kiss Me” seemed like Olsen was fully embracing pop. The upbeat love song came with a fun and sparkly rollerskating music video and seemed light-years from the dark and emotional world Olsen came from.

Angel Olsen, “Shut Up Kiss Me”

But in 2017, she returned to her dark folk roots with the Phases LP.

Fans are on the edge of their seat wondering where Olsen will jump to next with this upcoming album. She released the first single the title track off her fourth LP All Mirrors, coming out Oct. 4.

The song follows the pop track she’s been traversing but retains the darker, more emotional side of her early releases. Though she’s still dabbling in synth and vocal effects, the song gets as emotional as Strange Cacti’s “Drunk and with Dreams” or Half Way Home’s “Always Half Strange.”

Angel Olsen, “All Mirrors”

Could her two sides of pop and folk finally fully unite?

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