Angel Olsen's most recent album Burn Your Fire For No Witness - along with her acute back catalogue - holds an unashamedly constant presence in the fabric of my current existence. I'm horrendously hooked. I listen a lot. I think she is good and If people say she isn't I get really pissed off. Something about her everyday, deadpan existentialism, the way she slices through bullshit and perpetuates it, the dichotomy of wrought satire and sentimental hooks - all channelled through vaguely post-punk thematics and a muddied sense of pastoral genre.

The notable rise of chatter concerning Olsen evidently bottlenecked into her scattering of UK shows. Dingwalls is busy as hell. A woman keep clapping shitly and sporadically. A fat pillar is blocking my full view of the stage and Angel keeps stepping back into the blind spot. There were people everywhere, each scrabbling coldheartedly for a better sightline.

One of the most notable departures on Olsen's new record is the expansion and increased complexity of the overall sound - and live, this fuller, slacker-swing, country-grunge vibe carried exceptionally well. The waltzing rhythms are pinpoint, with the rest so casual it borders on brazen. Not tight and refined, but relaxed and free flowing - imperfect in the sense it feels honest and genuine.

Olsen's voice though, regardless of the growth of her surrounding ensemble, is the absolute pivot of her output - and live it reaches wild and untameable heights. It's rife with idiosyncrasies, each of its various accents and nuances seemingly reflective of shifting shades in character and intent. It slides between three key modes: Sustained, crystal-perfect pitch; rich and untrained warble; and lethargic, anti-cathartic monotone -- each exacting different yet equalled impact.

If you liked the album, then don't head along to a show expecting to hear it in well-kempt clarity. The dynamics are shifted; its most poignant aspects tagged out for new facets; elements exposed - especially some super tight riff work - that are understated on the record. But as far as I'm concerned that's exactly what a live show is about - being playful with your own material, expressing new and untold themes, and recontextualising the pre-exiting ones. It's also about pissing around, and demonstrating a genuine affiliation between content and character. In the lull after each track Olsen expresses the same dry, laconic wit so potent in her lyrics (and the same lurking disdain).

So Olsen achieved the double whammy: an ace show of the back of a totally outstanding album. She is a rare and exceptional force; illuminating the dinge of Dingwalls, and once again reaffirming her position as one of contemporary music's best and most treasurable enigmas.










Honeyblood