The descent into darkness is a trope we find time again across history, literature and film - a protagonist plunging further and further into the depths. But there is also an abyss above. There is a winding white staircase that goes ever upward into the great unknown - each step, each turn, requiring a greater boldness and confidence than the one before. This is the journey on which we find Angel Olsen.
Olsen's flight is both upward and inward. Olsen's artistic beginnings as a collaborator shifted seamlessly to her magnificent, cryptic-to-cosmic solo work, and then she formed bands to play her songs, and her stages and audiences grew exponentially. But all along, Olsen was more concerned with a different kind of path, and on her vulnerable, Big Mood new album, All Mirrors, we can see her taking an introspective deep dive towards internal destinations and revelations. In the process of making this album, she found a new sound and voice, a blast of fury mixed with hard won self-acceptance.
All Mirrors gets its claws into you on both micro and macro levels. Of course, there's that singular vibrato, always so very close - seemingly simple, cooed phrases expand into massive ideas about the inability to love and universal loneliness. And then suddenly - huge string arrangements and four horsemen bellowing synth swells emerge, propelling the apocalyptic tenor. Throughout All Mirrors, Angel fully lets in the goth tones that always lurked at the ends of her song craft.
The first step of All Mirrors, was conceiving a back-to-basics solo record, which she recorded with producer Michael Harris in Anacortes, Washington. Soon after that was completed, a more ambitious version of the album began to percolate in her mind. This second, more maximalist version of All Mirrors evolved slowly with producer John Congleton, arranger Jherek Bischoff, Swiss Army Knife musician/arranger Ben Babbitt, and a 14 piece orchestra.
While remaking the album with full production and new collaborators, Olsen developed a new relationship with control. And in that process, she developed an even clearer vision of herself as an artist.
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