St. Louis-born singer-songwriter Angel Olsen crafts intimate songs about loneliness, failed relationships, and vulnerability that are searing in their directness. And then there's her voice: a unique instrument that can alternate between quivering ominously and sliding gracefully into high notes with the slightest of twangs.
While Olsen's third album, Burn Your Fire No Witness (released today), sees her adding a full band behind her tracks, she sounds as fresh and emotionally raw as ever. In the wake of the album's release, Olsen caught up with The Week via email to talk about singing bears, earworms, and getting records in the mail. Below, six of her all-time favorite songs:
1. Ted Lucas, "It's So Easy"
"I first heard this in Paris while visiting a friend of a friend at the end of a tour. There's something about his voice that reminds me of a group of bears sitting around a campfire singing. So naturally, I am a fan."
2. Barbara Dane, "Pack Up Your Sorrows"
"Will Oldham introduced this song to me. I had already been a fan of Barbara Dane, but I'd never heard this song before. We sang it as an encore at many performances on the East Coast and in Europe. Anyway, I think it's a very appropriate song for anyone who thinks their sorrows are unique."
3. J.J. Cale, "Call Me The Breeze"
"This is the first track on Naturally."
4. Roky Erickson, "Unforced Peace"
"For some reason this song always gets stuck in my head. I'm not sure why, but I still think Roky Erickson is a genius."
5. The Everly Brothers, "Why Not"
"At the beginning of last summer I would lie in the grass with headphones on and listen to this song over and over again."
6. Shirley Collins, "Hares on the Mountain"
"One day, I anonymously received this in the mail. It's one of my favorite fall records."
(This interview was condensed and edited by Samantha Rollins.)
Watch the video for "Hi-Five" below:
More in this series...
* Wand's 6 favorite songs that are better live
* Steve Gunn's 6 favorite songs