Angel Olsen, gig review

Dingwalls, London

Angel Olsen began in the background, with Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s band. The Missourian’s own potency as a writer of passionate, poetic extremes has become clear on her second album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness.

She’s leading her own band tonight, which begins full of furious volume. But by “Windows”’ country noir, a tolling, dragging heaviness has set in, and Olsen thins her strong voice, as if the air where she’s at is exhaustingly sparse.

Then the band slip from the stage, and, solo, her intensity builds. “Everything is tragic,” Olsen begins “White Fire”, tipping the wink that, like Leonard Cohen, her mordancy is so extreme it’s almost funny.

Her flat monotone, though, sounds like she’s turning in on herself, her words becoming one long, indistinct exhalation, till she lets some syllables grate loudly against the ennui. “White Fire” is full of extreme phrases, and looks wistfully back to youthful thoughts of blinding passion which, at 26, Olsen is surely in the midst of.

She literally lets her hair down when she encores with the band. Her dramatic emotional focus keeps its grip till she turns on her heels and disappears.  

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