Phases. A perfect title for  multi-talented, prolific artist, Angel Olsen. On the 10th of November, 2017, a B-sides compilation unveiled Olsen’s heartfelt tracks, powerful listens, delicate songs, and smitten lullabies. Olsen is, and always has been, able to utilize a perfect mixture of songs. Immediately after daydreaming to the album through my first listen, I realize: these are songs that needed to be released.  The album is a well-balanced mixture of old, lo-fi stuff, and newer, crisper tracks. The best thing is, these two types fit together so well. The introspectively written pieces of the release showcase growth and tender self-love. Love that shows challenge as well as the process of overcoming challenge. While the album includes bedroom-recorded demos as well as professionally-recorded tracks, Angel is capable of releasing a beautiful compilation of art that most musicians may not have. Phases is a testament to admiring the process behind music creation and the beauty of all forms of art while reflecting a way of life.

      Although it’s easy for a seasoned listener to tell which songs were intended for which album, that seems to be the point. More specifically, Angel’s art developed over time from an already developed place. Universal subjects like unity seem to peek themselves out from the cracks in the vinyl. In this release, there’s something for every type of listener. This brings together Angel’s listeners, while giving them a tidy yet versatile record to discover themselves to.

      Angel Olsen moved to Asheville, North Carolina in the fall of 2013. Standing as a capital for arts in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I can’t help but imagine the influence that it has had on Olsen’s music. Her track “May as Well” reminds me, as an Asheville local, of the times I spent with friends driving down country roads, conversing with old couples who resided there.  “Endless Road,”  a bonus track from Burn Your Fire For No Witness, was recorded at Echo Mountain studios in Asheville. Standing as yet another example of creating in her surroundings, this song draws parallels between older, nostalgic country hits and newer, gleaming rock songs.

        Olsen’s Phases incorporates a variety of tracks, catering to everyone from a long-time listener to a fan who caught on with the release of “Shut Up Kiss Me,” off of Woman. Angel showcases her growth from an already established place through Phases, standing as a testament to her ability to create universally themed songs as well as tracks specifically resembling her dream world: her little mountain town, Asheville.


audrey keelin