Album Review: “Burn Your Fire For No Witness” by Angel Olsen

Album Review: Burn Your Fire For No Witness by Angel Olsen

Lo-fi folk singer’s sophomore album is a fascinating and expertly produced LP

Angel Olsen exists in a relatively foreign musical sphere by today’s standards. On her 2012 debut, “Half Way Home,” she took away the reverb employed on past releases, baring her strong, unprocessed voice to establish mood instead. The album was stripped down, yes, but Olsen holds such a distinct presence through the timbre and range of her voice that it’s easy to reciprocate her feelings of loss and loneliness. Despite, for the most part, employing little more than a guitar, “Half Way Home” showed incredible talent and potential.

It’s no surprise, then, that Olsen’s sophomore album, “Burn Your Fire for No Witness,” expands upon her distinctive sound and showcases her capacity as a singer-songwriter. With producer John Congleton, known for his work with St. Vincent, the album hosts a higher level of instrumentation that provides solid foundation for her voice to flourish. Distorted guitars provide a solid foundation for her songs to reach emotional highs detailing forgiveness and unrequited love on the standout track “Forgiven/Forgotten.” On the other end, the lightly strummed guitar on “White Fire” complements the devastatingly desolate lyrics like, “I heard my mother thinking me right back into my birth/ I laughed so loud inside myself it all began to hurt.”

The album oscillates between these positives and negatives, often either celebrating or ruminating over independence and loneliness. Despite the variety of many of the songs, rarely is there any interplay between these two poles. Distorted and unfiltered guitars rarely cross paths on the album, and it would have been nice to see structural variation within individual songs.

Yet any gripe is easily overcome by the stark, unabashed beauty and content of the album as a whole. “Burn Your Fire for No Witness” is music to ponder, but it never feels too overbearing or complicated. Olsen has created a deep, yet deceptively simple work that showcases authentic emotion and strength in the face of being alone.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The UCSD Guardian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *