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Benner’s B-Sides: ‘My Woman’ showcases indie-rock goddess Angel Olsen

Edward Benner reviews and analyzes the latest and greatest music releases in order to give them the exposure and praise they deserve. “Benner’s B-Sides” bridges the gap between the underground and the mainstream so that the reader can discover their new favorite artist.

Angel+Olsen%27s+album%2C+%22My+Woman%22+came+out+on+Sept.+2+2016
Angel Olsen's album,

Angel Olsen's album, "My Woman" came out on Sept. 2 2016

Angel Olsen's album, "My Woman" came out on Sept. 2 2016

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Angel Olsen lives up to her first name on her latest record, “My Woman,” as she sings of love and heartbreak with an almost divine delivery. Olsen soars, croons, belts, and serenades listeners across the folk and indie-rock-influenced album. The album blends sixties pop music styles with elements of modern garage rock and contemporary folk music, linking the past to the present.

The ten track album spans 45 minutes with two of its tracks exceeding the seven minute mark.  Olsen settles in to reveal to her listeners intimate experiences and innermost thoughts and feelings.

The album is surprisingly personal as Olsen portrays herself as vulnerable yet in control of her destiny, depressed yet hopeful to evolve, and stuck in the past yet willing to look to the future.

This list of seemingly contradictory elements makes for an interesting thematic journey throughout the album.  Sonically, the album is styled to model these feelings as the first half is more  influenced by garage rock. The second half, however, takes a more stripped down, acoustic approach. This diversity showcases Olsen as a fantastic musician who has the ability to seamlessly and rapidly shift between totally different musical styles.

“My Woman” is essentially an album full of love songs. Only the tracks “Intern” and “Sister” deal with topics other than longing or heartbreak. “Intern” is about the monotony of daily life and Olsen’s desire to live simply to make her art, while “Sister” is about Olsen wanting to teach her sister everything she knows and to love and support her for eternity.

The song “Never Be Mine” is about Olsen being madly in love with a man but knowing that he will never be hers.

“Shut Up and Kiss Me” is the catchiest and most radio- friendly tune on the album.  It features soaring vocals and a fuzzy garage rock guitar tone that make for a song best played at loud volumes. It is about not ending a relationship because of a fight and learning how to put disagreements aside when you are in love.

The songs “Give it Up,” “Heart Shaped Face,” “Those Were the Days,” and “Woman” all deal with Olsen seeing her lover change over time and trying to move onwards with her life after the relationship ends. In these tracks she grapples with attachment, depression, and finding herself as an independent woman.

The final song, “Pops,” is a piano ballad about Olsen pleading with her lover to not leave, because he has taken too much of her heart, and it will be impossible to deal with such heartbreak.

“My Woman” manages to feel refreshing and inventive despite its obvious nods to music from previous decades. Olsen proves that even in 2016, all one needs is passion and a six-string guitar to make a killer rock album.  

Edward Benner is a News Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.   

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Benner’s B-Sides: ‘My Woman’ showcases indie-rock goddess Angel Olsen