In the early days of this year I found myself unable to listen to anything. Fresh off of “List Season,” when albums are constantly ranked and suffocated by meaningless lists, I found it hard to approach any music without a preconceived bias or tagline of what supposedly made it so goddamn special, making for an experience not unlike chewing gum that had long since lost its flavor.
But I found solace in Angel Olsen’s latest album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness; a collection of delicately appealing songs that celebrate isolating loneliness through recognizing the pain at point blank. Though Olsen’s previous work holds truer to the aesthetic of an instrumentally lean singer-songwriter, this album has more variety and lends itself well to her powerful intonation. By foregoing barebones production and songwriting, her voice sounds more present, whether over the slow burning jangle of “Hi-Five” or gentle ponderings from “Iota.”
Her most recent masterpiece, “White Fire”, is essentially a master class in coping with introverted paranoia. Instead of wallowing, however, she cites the album’s title, urging her audience to “burn their fire for no witness” as a mantra, a reminder of self-preservation. Throughout the song, and album, Olsen makes it clear that she’s no less afraid of disconnection and loneliness, but she’s mature enough to cope with the nature of feeling solitary.
Olsen’s nationwide tour comes through Seattle’s Barboza on Friday, March 7th. Based on the nature of her album, I wouldn’t be surprised if she floated onto the stage like a specter and disappeared as the final note hung in the air.