‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness’ is Your Broken Heart’s New Best Friend

by | Feb 24, 2014 | MUSIC

Before this review begins, here’s an excerpt from a textversation between my friend and I about Angel Olsen:

Before this review begins, here’s an excerpt from a textversation between my friend and I about Angel Olsen:

We’re obsessed. Everyone who’s heard the album is at least a little bit obsessed. Listen to a single song off Burn Your Fire and you may very well become an Angel Olsen fan girl/boy, too.

Why are we so into her? Because Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Olsen’s sophomore album, takes the heartbreak bull by the horns and embraces it with sad, lovely, old school country inspired indie pop.

Hi-five, the album’s second single, channels feelings similar to those you get when listening to Belle & Sebastian or Magnetic Fields – unnervingly sad but somehow still upbeat; a cheerful spin on despair, if you will.

While Hi-five isn’t the only trace of pep to be found in Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Forgiven/Forgotten and High & Wild also call for some hip-shaking), most of the record pulls at the heartstrings and twists the proverbial knife so much that the listener – especially the vulnerable, disconsolate listener – will begin to feel dark emotion seeping out of his or her gut by the last song.

And that’s the point. This is a from-the-heart, from-the-gut album about sadness and heartbreak and all the fucked up depression and terrible thoughts that go along with it.

And it’s freakin’ lovely.

Burn Your Fire, which shines as a wonderfully written and recorded compilation of songs that range from a-bit-fuzzed-out-and-nineties to Olsen’s signature spectral, folky style, functions as a comforting guardian to the brokenhearted. This is a record with which you can (and should) have pillow talk. The more you listen, the more you get to know the feelings and the girl who feels them. This is an album with which you can share your secrets and worries without fear of judgment, thanks to Olsen’s comfortable and brave presentation of feelings.

While Burn Your Fire is certainly more rockin’ than 2012’s Half Way Home, Olsen sticks to her roots. (Before flying solo, she toured as a backing singer/guitarist for Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy.) Songs like White Fire and Windows invoke pain reminiscent of Kitty Wells’ Lonesome Sad and Blue.

Angel Olsen proves herself as an excellent songwriter on this 11-track album. Pick it up and listen to it.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner is the former editor of GayRVA and RVAMag from 2013 - 2017. He’s now the Richmond Bureau Chief for Radio IQ, a state-wide NPR outlet based in Roanoke. You can reach him at BradKutnerNPR@gmail.com

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