Angel Olsen reminds me of Tiny Tim, and after listening to her insanely-hyped new release, Half Way Home, I think I mean that in a good way.
Once performing in the shadows of Bonny “Prince” Billy’s backing band, Angel’s now got her own gig going. It’s weird, its unsettling, but it has this undeniable twisted beauty. The hype, my friends, is backed up. I feel like there’s this certain stigma around the word ‘hype’ that once it’s hears it is in danger of being ruled out as mass-appealing fluff. That is certainly not the case with Angel. She’s like some bizarre hybrid between the absurdity of Joanna Newsom, with the delicacy of someone like Emmylou Harris.
As for the Tiny Tim part, I do believe that there is a little part of Angel that is bordering on weird for weird sake. There’s this jarring wailing that cuts its way into her songs… like a cross between the aforementioned king of vibrato and an wounded animal. It’s a combination that truly leaves me unsettled but that in itself is a rare thing to feel in modern day music. She’s doing something different and whether you like that vexing vibe or not, you got to give the girl daps for making you feel something outside of the standard catalogue of indie rock emotions.
Acrobat is a beautiful little piece. It’s the kind of track that would play as the soundtrack to a golden train ride, just as the sun is going down or a montage of out of focus sparklers on a summer night. Sorry to girl out on you, but it just provokes such picturesque imagery. I love this song because it’s a really nice example of all that Angel is offering to you when you pick up the album. It’s vulnerable and dainty while at the same time being strange and uncomfortable. This song is thoughtful and even with just a steady plucking guitar, it provides you with so much.
Half Way Home has reached the echelon of badass ladies writing the real stuff. Angel reaches outside of a collective comfort zone and forms a new one in the outskirts.