For over a decade, the highwire eloquence of the Angel Olsen songbook has been grounded by the emotional weight of dwelling principally in your thoughts. The heaviness of solitary dreaming—“Hiding out inside my head”; “I just like the ideas I believe…with out you”; “Some days all you want is one good thought robust in your thoughts”—is paired with comforting grace when mirrored by Olsen’s fever-pitched warble and incisive lyrics, her schema of gravity and surprise. Like different artist-philosophers of the human coronary heart earlier than her, Olsen creates a spirit of hard-won data, the sensation of steadiness in a brutal world.
Not notably straightforward work. However with Huge Time—her clearest and most radiant music—Olsen got down to extra intentionally foreground the advantage of ease. Having journeyed from folk-rock poet to jukebox rock’n’curler to baroque epicist on her final correct document, 2019’s monumental All Mirrors, she is reborn on Huge Time as an alternately smiling or crying cowgirl. Olsen teases out the twang and pedal metal of her longtime nation influences, just like the audacity of Skeeter Davis and Tammy Wynette, or the blistering ache of Hank Williams. The tough-and-tender extremity of nation music has all the time been current in her craving cadences, now extra lucid than ever, however right here she leans additional into its in-the-room glow, its honesty and resilience. As her heights amplify, so do her depths.
Within the months resulting in the recording of Huge Time, Olsen got here out as queer with a brand new associate. She advised her dad and mom, who by probability each handed away inside weeks. Huge Time absorbs the entangling transformations of grief and new love, their energy to make clear, and reprioritize, every little thing—the album, she stated, is the work of an individual “irreversibly modified.” The titular idea of Huge Time isn’t just an evocation of its glistening Nashville sound, neither is it solely a declaration of overflowing, abiding love, as when Olsen croons “I’m loving you huge time/I’m loving you extra.” In a single time-collapsing swoop, that chorus echoes phrases of affection Olsen obtained from her associate in addition to from her late mom. All of Huge Time is charged by an elevated consciousness of the clock’s palms, how they fold in on one another: time Olsen loses monitor of; time she spends in useless, “to be someone”; time that bodily slows and that quickens to the moment. It is a document about how time billows out from the middle of now—ahead, backwards, inside and down, like in a science fiction novel.
The place Olsen as soon as sang of being a idiot in love as if it had been uncool, Huge Time presents dignity in such a place. On the nearer, “Chasing the Solar,” she sends her associate a “postcard” from one other room: “I’m simply writing to say that I can’t discover my garments/Should you’re searching for one thing to do.” The golden hour title monitor beams with the quotidian intimacy of Frank O’Hara in a pickup truck: kissing, espresso, nature, sunshine, “talkin’ along with your eyes.” A songwriter who previously wished that she might solely purchase into all that was promised to her is now a believer, soundtracking the crystalline readability of feeling linked, finally, to herself and others.