Album of the Week: Angel Olsen, 'All Mirrors'

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Angel Olsen, 'All Mirrors'
Angel Olsen, 'All Mirrors' (Jagjaguwar)
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Have you ever been into a fun house and gotten to the mirror room? Your body, at once so familiar is distorted and pulled into a version you hardly recognize. That shifting and twisted version of self takes center stage in the haunting new album from Angel Olsen. All Mirrors is dark and brooding, full of synths and strings, a place to reflect on what could have been, and what unknown possibilities lie just out of sight.

Olsen's music has always leaned toward the dramatic. Her last album, 2016's My Woman, took on everyday life — the struggles and banality — blown up to a cinematic level. She's upped the ante on her latest album, adding a string section (and at some points, full orchestration) to create a soundtrack-worthy story. All Mirrors is an apt title; at once suggestive of Alice and her journey to Wonderland (flipping what is known into a confusing swirl of opposite thoughts). Or maybe it is the fun house, showing off a variety of possible versions of the reflection; a sliding door tangent of possible life stories. In one life you could be happily married with children, trying to be an easy person or completely happy without the future you thought you would have. Every note is full of possibility, but also regret.

The tension is revealed through Olsen's vocals, which can appear as a murmured mumble to herself, and then flutter and hold with crystal clarity. She holds all the power with her voice in each song, commanding even her words are so soft you have to close your eyes and start the song over to try and understand what she's whispering just under the rush of string harmonies. The lyrics may be unsure and questioning, but Olsen is in complete control.

It may be all smoke and mirrors, but Angel Olsen navigates it smoothly while creating a haunting album that reflects and projects without judgment.

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