11 Songs, 43 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Angel Olsen brings an intensity to her first album, Half Way Home, that’s both disturbing and thrilling to hear. The Chicago-based singer/songwriter fully emerges with a batch of songs distinguished by their exquisitely melancholy imagery and gauzy, insinuating melodies. Traces of Roy Orbison’s operatic flights and Edith Piaf’s self-lacerating arias can be heard, as well as the smoldering bluesiness of Karen Dalton and Judy Henske. All comparisons aside, Olsen is a riveting vocalist who can tenderly caress a lyric before ripping it in two with a heartbreaking wail. Tracks like “Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow,” “The Sky Opened Up," and “Lonely Universe” are magnificent invocations of personal darkness. The erotic daydream “Acrobat” and the yearning, Patsy Cline–like “The Waiting” lighten the mood somewhat, though romantic cautionary tales like “Miranda” are more typical. The closing track “Tiniest Seed”—an aching alt-country ballad—may be the album’s most seductive number. Olsen’s deft guitar work and a softly insistent rhythm section lend Half Way Home a stark, often eerie sound, bringing out the haunting qualities in her uncanny, remarkably accomplished music.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Angel Olsen brings an intensity to her first album, Half Way Home, that’s both disturbing and thrilling to hear. The Chicago-based singer/songwriter fully emerges with a batch of songs distinguished by their exquisitely melancholy imagery and gauzy, insinuating melodies. Traces of Roy Orbison’s operatic flights and Edith Piaf’s self-lacerating arias can be heard, as well as the smoldering bluesiness of Karen Dalton and Judy Henske. All comparisons aside, Olsen is a riveting vocalist who can tenderly caress a lyric before ripping it in two with a heartbreaking wail. Tracks like “Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow,” “The Sky Opened Up," and “Lonely Universe” are magnificent invocations of personal darkness. The erotic daydream “Acrobat” and the yearning, Patsy Cline–like “The Waiting” lighten the mood somewhat, though romantic cautionary tales like “Miranda” are more typical. The closing track “Tiniest Seed”—an aching alt-country ballad—may be the album’s most seductive number. Olsen’s deft guitar work and a softly insistent rhythm section lend Half Way Home a stark, often eerie sound, bringing out the haunting qualities in her uncanny, remarkably accomplished music.

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