When indie-folk artist Angel Olsen first came onto the scene in 2011, her music was by no means traditional or typical. Now, in 2023, Olsen has yet to stop growing as an artist.
April 14 saw the release of “Forever Means,” a four-track extended play, or EP, from Olsen, which follows a full-length album from last year, as well as a decade of interesting pop-folk music.
The singer-songwriter’s first release from 2011, “Strange Cacti” is still to this day a very unique EP, both in her discography and the genre as a whole. The opening song, “Tiniest Lights,” is a haunting masterpiece, with a distant, echoey distortion that only exaggerates the character of Olsen’s folk-inspired vocals.
She would later release six full-length studio albums, including the critically-acclaimed 2016 project, “My Woman.”
Her latest release, “Forever Means” arrives as the newest continuation of the star’s rising popularity. The short, but definitely sweet, 16 minutes is full of everything that makes Olsen a notable figure in independent music, as well as some new sounds that she has not experimented with yet.
The first track, “Nothing’s Free,” is the best of the EP. The slow build of soft, jazzy vocals and piano creates the foundation for what explodes into a lively track with soaring saxophones and ringing organs.
The titular song of the EP follows and slows things down substantially. Although it does not feel as rich or as developed as “Nothing’s Free,” it still manages to express the beauty and talent of Olsen’s voice, and it contains a dream-pop-inspired guitar backing, which could be brought out more.
The dream-pop inspiration becomes even more apparent in “Time Bandits,” the third song. Olsen’s style becomes very reminiscent of retro dream-pop movements like the Cocteau Twins, but unlike those classic bands, Olsen does not seem to really go anywhere on this track.
“Holding On” is the final track on “Forever Means,” and provides a unique mix of electric guitar and string violin, making it feel like a classic folk song expanded by Olsen’s artistry. Although the production is great, and her vocals deliver as usual, I still feel like Olsen could have done more with this style.
In the end, “Forever Means” is a solid project from Olsen, but is definitely not her best work of all time. Still, it presents an enjoyable listen which is worth the 16 minutes you spend, and shows Olsen continuing to expand her sound and style.
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