02.07.2014 — “White Fire” by Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen at Hopscotch

If you only listen to one song today, make it “White Fire” by Angel Olsen (2014, from the forthcoming album Burn Your Fire For No Witness).

If you’ve talked to me about music in the last year or so, and you’ve asked me what I’m into these days, I’ve listed Angel Olsen, and I’ve probably mentioned her name with some enthusiasm. If you asked me to name my favorite things about the 2013 Hopscotch Music Festival, I would have responded very enthusiastically “Angel Olsen!!!”. In fact, seeing her play “Creator, Destroyer” was the absolute highlight of the festival for me. It kind of knocked me out. Here’s the video that I made of that:

I don’t make a habit of writing about a band or singer that I’ve already written about, especially if it’s been very recent. It’s not that I need an excuse to write about her again, but her forthcoming album Burn Your Fire For No Witness is rapidly approaching its release date, and that’s a perfect excuse.

The new album is her second proper album, and it’s the first time that she’s worked with a full band. While her previous White Cacti EP and Half Way Home album are undeniably “indie-folk” records with heavy country influence, this new record shows a little bit of rock influence as well. Just a little. Today’s song is one of about four from the album that go back to Angel Olsen basics. Angel and her guitar.

The new album comes out on February 18, but anyone who pre-ordered a physical copy has had a digital copy of it for a few weeks now. I’ve been listening to the new record a lot, and I’m fairly sure that I’ll end up placing it in the top ten of my 2014 year-end list. Over the last couple of weeks, Jagjaguwar Records has been making a few of the songs publicly available to stream via Soundcloud. Today, they released “White Fire” to the public.

This is that song.

“White Fire” by Angel Olsen

I’m a really big fan of the waltz-like 3/4 timing. But while we usually associate waltzes with peppy, upbeat stuff, this is a dark, sad number. The song opens with the lyric:

Everything is tragic
It all just falls apart

It’s filled with lines like that, but at the end, there’s the “don’t let it get you down” tone which alludes to the album title:

If you’ve still some light in you then go before it’s done
Burn your fire for no witness
It’s the only way it’s done
Fierce and light and young
Fierce and light and young
Hit the ground and run

In other words: even if nobody’s around to appreciate it, keep doing your awesome thing.

Indeed, Angel Olsen. Indeed.

I do like the full band songs, including the rock-y “Forgiven/Forgotten”, but I much prefer the rawness and emotional ferocity of the stripped down ones like this, and the album-opening “Unfucktheworld”.

Pre-order the album now and you should get an immediate digital download.

Make sure you catch Angel Olsen when she plays in your town. She’s currently at the start of a brief US tour, which will be followed by 14 UK/European dates jam-packed into a fortnight in late March/early April. She’ll follow that with another (mostly east coast) US tour which will bring her to Chapel Hill in May. I’ll be there.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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