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Angel Olsen - Big Time (Album Review)

Tuesday, 07 June 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Angel Olsen’s sixth album is wonderful—a tough and tender tumble into country music that elevates and escalates the Asheville, North Carolina resident’s entire catalogue.

It also marks a bit of a crossroads in the singer’s life. Since the release of her previous LP, 2019’s ‘All Mirrors’, Olsen has come out as gay and lost both of her parents. Those experiences inform a record of incredible poise and patience, with 10 tracks defined by sweet melancholy and hard-bitten storytelling.

There is a different kind of confidence at play here. Tracks such as Go Home and Through the Fires are star-crossed ballads with southern gothic elements: slow, mournful and full of reverb.

They are the kind of songs that appeared in the musical vignettes of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return, and demand close and focused listening.

But there are brighter notes, too. The title track hits some rote country arrangement marks—slide guitars, honky tonk piano and rim shots—but manages to stay on the right side of a pastiche. “Good morning kisses, giving you all mine,” Olsen sings. “Pull back the curtains, show me the sunshine / Needing this coffee, needing some nature / Need it right now, it can't wait until later.”

This puts the album in a bit of a Hank Williams-Tammy Wynette cul-de-sac, but Olsen adeptly levers herself out of this space with deft yet unmissable arrangement choices throughout. Is that a hammered dulcimer on Dream On? How about the fuzz guitar and horn outro on Right Now? ‘Big Time’ shows considerable breadth despite staying firmly in-genre.

It feels trite to call this Olsen’s best work. Her 2016 LP ‘My Woman’ is more distinctive and her 2021 single with Sharon Van Etten, Like I Used To, is an actual modern classic that will likely outlive us all. But ‘Big Time’ is probably her most accomplished full LP, with an expressive quality that wasn’t here before. 

Maybe it’s a new maturity in the artist, or the tighter constraints of country music itself—colouring between the lines can be strangely freeing. And, yes, perhaps it is in some part due to letting go and saying goodbye. 

Angel Olsen Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu July 21 2022 - VIENNA Virginia - Wolf Trap Center For the Performing Arts (USA)
Fri July 22 2022 - ASHEVILLE North Carolina - Rabbit Rabbit (USA)
Sat July 23 2022 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Ryman Auditorium (USA)
Mon July 25 2022 - AUSTIN Texas - Moody Amphitheater (USA)
Fri July 29 2022 - LOS ANGELES California - Greek Theatre (USA)
Sat July 30 2022 - BERKELEY California - Greek Theatre (USA)
Tue August 02 2022 - TROUTDALE Oregon - Edgefield Amphitheater (USA)
Wed August 03 2022 - REDMOND Washington - Marymoor Amphitheater (USA)
Fri August 05 2022 - BOISE Idaho - Idaho Botanical Garden (USA)
Sat August 06 2022 - SALT LAKE CITY Utah - TBA (USA)
Sun August 07 2022 - DENVER Colorado - Sculpture Park (USA)
Tue August 09 2022 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - Surly Brewing Festival Field (USA)
Wed August 10 2022 - CHICAGO Illinois - TBA (USA)
Thu August 11 2022 - KALAMAZOO Michigan - Bells Eccentric Cafe (USA)
Fri August 12 2022 - TORONTO Ontario - Massey Hal (Canada)
Mon August 15 2022 - SHELBURNE Vermont - Green at Shelburne Museum (USA)
Tue August 16 2022 - LAFAYETTE New York - Beak and Skiff Apple Orchards (USA)
Thu August 18 2022 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Leader Bank Pavilion (USA)
Fri August 19 2022 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Skyline Stage (USA)
Sun August 21 2022 - NEW YORK New York - Central Park Summerstage (USA)

Mon September 26 2022 - LISBON Cineteatro Capitólio (Portugal)
Tue September 27 2022 - LISBON Cineteatro Capitólio (Portugal)
Thu September 29 2022 - MADRID Sala La Riviera (Spain)
Fri September 30 2022 - BARCELONA Sala Apolo (Spain)
Sat October 01 2022 - LYON Lepicerie Moderne Feyzin (France)
Sun October 02 2022 - ZURICH Kauflauten (Switzerland)
Tue October 04 2022 - MUNICH Freiheitshalle (Germany)
Wed October 05 2022 - VIENNA WUK (Austria)
Thu October 06 2022 - WARSAW Palladium (Poland)
Fri October 07 2022 - BERLIN Huxleys (Germany)
Sun October 09 2022 - STOCKHOLM Hotel Burns (Sweden)
Mon October 10 2022 - OSLO Rockerfeller Music Hall (Norway)
Tue October 11 2022 - COPENHAGEN Vega (Denmark)
Thu October 13 2022 - COLOGNE Gloria (Germany)
Fri October 14 2022 - PARIS Bataclan (France)
Sat October 15 2022 - LEUVEN Het Depot (Belgium)
Sun October 16 2022 - AMSTERDAM Paradiso (Netherlands)

Tue October 18 2022 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Wed October 19 2022 - BATH Bath Forum
Thu October 20 2022 - EDINBURGH Usher Hall
Fri October 21 2022 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Mon October 24 2022 - DUBLIN Vicar Street

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Related News

Tue 13 Sep 2022
Angel Olsen Teams Up With Sturgill Simpson For New Version Of Big Time
Wed 18 May 2022
Angel Olsen Shares New Track Through The Fires
Wed 27 Apr 2022
Angel Olsen Shares Title Track Of Upcoming Album 'Big Time'
Tue 29 Mar 2022
Angel Olsen Announces New Album 'Big Time', Confirms Autumn UK and Ireland Shows
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