On a Sunday night in Bristol, a rare gig occurs – a rare gig where you find yourself getting into a band way too late, only to see them soon after and be completely and utterly captivated. Angel Olsen has been on the scene since 2010 with her enchanting, yet haunting melodies, and now has three albums and an EP to her name. Third album My Woman was released in September this year on Jagjaguwar records, and it is an outright jewel of an album that shines bright amongst its fellow 2016 releases, with singles such as ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’ and ‘Sister’ blazing its trail.
Olsen and her band come onstage with the band all wearing matching grey-blue suits and bolo ties, and Angel herself wearing an unassuming long, vintage dress. Set opener ‘Never Be Mine’ is fresh off the new album; one of those always-charming upbeat songs that’s actually quite heart-breaking, as Angel laments: ‘you’ll never be mine … I will turn and walk away, I will watch you turn and walk away’. But it’s not all – albeit beautiful – doom and gloom, as the crowd are treated to commanding ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’, a refusal to let go of something and an ode to speaking your mind.
Angel then sweeps the audience into a mesmerised lull as she plays a track from Burn Your Fire For No Witness, her first album recorded with a full band. This gives the audience a chance to recollect themselves before Olsen and her band embark on almost eight-minute long ‘Sister’, with its crescendos and soaring climax, ending on a subtle-yet-impressive guitar solo. The emotional peak of the night comes with ‘Windows’, a poignant plea of desperation, as Angel implores ‘won’t you open a window sometime? What’s so wrong with the light?’.
The set then builds significantly in ferocity as ‘Not Gonna Kill You’ is followed by ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘Forgiven/Forgotten’, all unrestrained, storming tracks in their own right. The band have only been touring together for a few years, but their chemistry is evident, the emotion is conveyed by all members, not just Olsen. Overall, the crowd is somewhat subdued, but this arguably adds to the intense atmosphere already created by Angel and her band. It’s brilliant that there are so many admirable artists carving out their sound in the world of girls and guitars, but Olsen manages to even break past that ‘stereotype’ and create a whole new space for herself to create such stark, unique sounds.
As I leave the venue, I feel as if a spell has been broken, one that I’d been under for the past couple of hours. It’s left me in a state of anticipation for what Angel Olsen has to offer next – her stunning releases only get better and better, and if her live shows are already this polished and unique, where will her shows take us in the future? For now though, we can just revel in My Woman for a while.