St Louis's Angel Olsen announces herself as a contender with her second full-length album.
It's rare to find an artist like this these days. There's an indelible cool about Olsen but it doesn't reveal itself in a lazy, distant way – it's just the way she is. While much of Burn Your Fire For No Witness feels reined in, it's because Olsen can deliver her story with natural intensity, no need for recourse to bells and whistles.
It's a Roy Orbison thing really, a tremulous voice – the kind you can live in – carrying songs that are otherwise stark, preoccupied with letting the space set the mood. On opener Unf***theworld, Olsen is somewhere between the Big O and Patsy Cline, so much emotion in a vibrating, Southern-fried tone. On Dance Slow Decades she's channelling Roy again, singing "I can hear you crying/And I'm crying too" and finding you caught in the moment. It's meditative and absorbing.
Occasionally Olsen builds on this subdued, lo-fi atmosphere, finding a grand piano-fuelled indie on High & Wild and going pure Pixies on Forgiven/Forgotten, but the greater part of Burn Your Fire For No Witness is about sparse arrangements soaked in reverb, Olsen's voice doing the major lifting even as it's soft and pure. This is an album to get lost in, and you'll be happy about it.