Angel Olsen

REVIEW: Angel Olsen “Forever Means”


Angel Olsen — Forever Means

Forever evolves, and we’d better evolve along with it. That’s the essential message of Angel Olsen’s new EP, Forever Means. Comprised of four songs from around the time last year’s excellent Big Time was conceived and recorded, these strays have perhaps didn’t have a place on an album that had Olsen looking back on a period of loss, but as that record wrapped, the singer-songwriter was beginning to look forward (listen to the conclusion of “Go Home,” where she sings “Forget the old dream/I got a new thing”), and she began to ask what does the future, specifically “forever,” really mean?

Forever Means starts with the pensive, piano-based “Nothing’s Free,” which looks at both past sorrows – “Here it comes feel it break that old cell/The one you thought had kept you safe” – and potential happiness – “But nothing’s free/Like breaking free” – as sorts of new beginnings. With doses of sax and organ, the song ends up as something between late-night torchy and Southern gospel. The title track is comparatively spare (especially when set against the lusher Big Time and the orchestral/electronic mix of 2019’s standout All Mirrors). With little more than her guitar (Olsen is a criminally underrated player) and her tremulous vocals, she fully dives into the notion of discovering an unknown future with her person – “Forget all I said, just look at the way/We are when we’re together/Each moment arrives and then disappears/But the searching goes on/Forever.”

Next up is the languid “Time Bandits,” which has Olsen indulging in the moment – “I need you right now/To be here and lay down and get on the ground/And hear it and feel it and know that you’re bound to the Earth, to each other, And that’s where it’s found.” But the EP concludes on a slow burner, “Holding On,” that opens with denial – “Couldn’t see the light/You brought to me” – before becoming a ball-out rocker when realization comes just a moment too late – “Now it’s gone, it’s all I see.” Turns out, “forever” doesn’t always lea where we want it to.

Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: Given that I’m writing about this new EP, I’ll stump for “Holding On.” But I’m also hoping for her to fill up Red Rocks in May with 2019’s “Lark.”

Forever Means was produced by Jonathan Wilson and Angel Olsen, mixed by Wilson, engineered by Grant Milliken and Mirza Sherrif and mastered by Adam Ayan. All songs written by Olsen. Additional musicians on the album include Wilson (drums, percussion, guitar, piano), Emily Elhaj (bass), Drew Erickson (piano, organ, keys, synths), Dan Higgins (saxophone), Griffin Goldsmith (drums, percussion), Jake Blanton (guitar) and Wayne Bergeron (trumpet),

Go here to order Forever Means (out April 14):

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Enjoy our previous coverage here: REVIEW: Angel Olsen “Big Time”

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