Angel Olsen Serves up a Party Soundtrack With a Side of Soul

Angel Olsen
Angel Olsen (Amanda Marsalis)
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This feature originally published and aired on episode 356 (Sept. 2, 2016) of Dinner Party Download from American Public Media.

Angel Olsen is an Asheville, N.C.-based singer and guitarist. She made a name for herself with haunting vocals and harmonic soundscapes that draw on everything from psychedelia to country-western music. Her much-anticipated sophomore album, called “My Woman,” just released on Sept. 2, 2016. She also performed a few songs at our live show in St. Paul, Minn., last year. Here she is with a party playlist.

Candi Staton – “He Called Me Baby”

The first song that I’d play at my party is Candi Staton, “He Called Me Baby.”

She’s got, like, a Southern soul kind of voice. She was married to a preacher in the South for many years. She has kind of like an old-school, sort of shouting and singing at the same time, like if you were in a Baptist church or something and hearing someone sing about Jesus or something like that. But she’s singing about love, and deceitfulness, and just all the stuff that’s real.

When I hear this song, I imagine being on a subway and reflecting on just needing someone and being so psyched about them. It puts you in a good mood in that kind of way that’s like, you’re by yourself kind of like enjoying what just happened.

I mean, the song’s called “He Called Me Baby.” If you listen to it, it’s really sensual, and you’re just like, “Man, she had a good time on that date.” I guess, you know? [Laughs.]

J.J. Cale – “Cherry”

We go into the backyard. There’s a big tree. There’s, like, some blankets and some nice tealights, and somebody made a cake. It just looks really beautiful, and people are just having a good summertime, you know? There are bugs, but, you know, it’s part of the experience [laughs].

Song two is “Cherry” by J.J. Cale. I listen to a lot of J.J. Cale when I’m stressed out. Like, if you listen to reggae or something, sometime it just… it kind of calms you down.

Maybe there’s, like, a girl from across the room that somebody notices, and this song is playing, and it’s real slow, and she’s walking up, and she’s like, “Dang!” And maybe they’re thinking, “I’d swipe right.” And then they recognize each other.

Marvin Gaye – “Inner City Blues”

Song three is “Inner City Blues” by Marvin Gaye.

When I first heard it, I didn’t even recognize it as Marvin Gaye at all. When I found out who it was, I was like, “What?!” But I saw this movie called “A Most Violent Year.” It opens with “Inner City Blues,” with a scene of this guy jogging and kind of reflecting about working in the city.

I started in St. Louis, lived there my whole life, and then moved to Chicago for seven years. And now I live in Asheville, North Carolina, which is a city, but it’s very small and doesn’t have the same kind of like, grimy, kind of loud sounds, stuff happening constantly around you noise. And I love it for many reasons, but sometimes I go and I visit a city like New York or Chicago, and I get a little bit nostalgic. And so listening to that song, it just kind of brought up some memories of me.

Angel Olsen – “Those Were the Days”

A friend is playing a joke on me. It’s actually my birthday party, so they played one of my songs to show somebody something I’d been working on. And I just went to the bathroom, came back, and, like, the song that’s playing when I come out of the bathroom is “Those Were the Days.”

And I was just like, “You’ve got to turn that off right now!” Sort of laughing like, “Oh, god! Oh, god!” It’s a little awkward. It’s like walking into a room where there’s a painting of me naked in front of all my family.

 

BONUS – “Shut Up Kiss Me”

Angel directed the video for her new song, “Shut Up Kiss Me.” Check it out below!

Check out the complete Episode 356 of Dinner Party Download; guests include Craig Robinson and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

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