AOTY 2018

Burn Your Fire for No Witness

Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire for No Witness
Critic Score
Based on 31 reviews
2014 Ratings: #57 / 845
Year End Rank: #7
User Score
Based on 396 ratings
2014 Ratings: #30
February 18, 2014 / Release Date
LP / Format
Jagjaguwar / Label
John Congleton / Producer
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Your Review



Olsen can’t decide whether she wants to make peace with the world or set it alight, and it is her constant grappling with that dilemma that makes the record such an engaging listen.


Olsen shares graciously in her music, and if you are willing, Burn a Fire for No Witness will change your world. Or, actually, it will change how you see your world.

Consequence of Sound

Billed as “a collection of songs grown in a year of heartbreak, travel, and transformation,” Olsen’s sophomore LP is an astonishingly graceful, open, and engaging offering filled with intimate and unflinching songs.

The 405

Burn Your Fire, through increased complexity of instrumentation, creates a new dynamic - the vocal is more understated and reserved, less elusive and divergent - it's autonomy partially tethered by the whole ensembles balanced interrelation.


Its title is a biblically bold declaration accompanied by 11 songs that put the 27-year-old’s worldview in no uncertain terms: disinterested in the attentions of others and steadfastly committed to honouring her own intentions and experience.

The Line of Best Fit

Olsen is a unique songwriter of incredible complexity and fearlessness, and despite her ostensibly considerable inner sorrow, she manages to deliver an album that is as equally exultant as it is despondent.


Burn Your Fire for No Witness conjures the past without ever imitating it, swirling its influences into something intimate, impressionistic and new.

A.V. Club

There’s an inherent risk in a voice as powerful as Olsen’s. It’s a winning hand other singer-songwriters could easily overplay, pushing every song to histrionics, but even on an album as brash as Burn Your Fire, Olsen knows when to pull back. 

The Skinny

Burn Your Fire for No Witness proves a bolder, more assertive expression of the Missouri-born songwriter’s talents


In its apparent desperate seeking of recognition, the album definitely manages to stand out in a crowd, but it doesn't always like what it sees.


More than anything, however, the heightened production and instrumentation just help to show how much Olsen's songs have grown and how confident she's become as a performer, even in the space of one album.

Drowned in Sound

In spite of its gloomier mood, it’s a record every bit as spirited as Half Way Home, and possibly even more affecting.

Under The Radar

Burn Your Fire feels like Olsen's tentative "fuck you" to those who would dismiss her as just another voice, tossing aside the bushel and letting the compositional light shine as brightly as the vocal.

Tiny Mix Tapes

Like a good drama, the most enthralling moments of Burn Your Fire occur in the most unpolished and ambiguous facets. Each song is familiar at first listen, only to transform into intricately indelible settings the more you follow their path.


In this entangled series of ideas about emotions and expression, about the past and its grip on us, the truly remarkable thing about Burn Your Fire For No Witness is how it questions the very nature of sad songs.


Whether through its most aching moments or the psych-styled Americana explored on "High & Wild" and "Lights Out," there's plenty of high-calibre hypnotism to take hold of you on Burn Your Fire For No Witness.

Time Out London

These 11 tracks still feel like soliloquies. Born out of a year of ‘heartbreak, travel and transformation’, they are straight-to-the-knife-point meditations on love, pain and existence caught in the raw spotlight of aloneness. 

Slant Magazine

Those more aggressive tendencies are featured more prominently alongside Olsen's breathy vocals on Olsen's follow-up, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, which is noisier, brasher, and more confident than its languid predecessor.

Loud and Quiet

Her rickety coo is more flawless than ever, her songwriting is defiantly more eclectic than it was throughout the acoustic porch songs of ‘Half Way Home’.


This superb second album makes a ... dramatic leap forward – vaulting straight from evident promise to its stringent and unarguable realisation.

NOW Magazine

Like her debut, Burn Your Fire For No Witness often feels stripped back, designed to showcase her phenomenal, fluid, can-do-anything vocals. But here the production is kicked up a few notches.

Pretty Much Amazing

For as commanding and affecting Burn Your Fire for No Witness can be while it plays, the album remains elusive when trying to call it to mind later. 


Lyrically, she has never been better, with moments of sarcasm even shining through her often painfully honest musings. Yet it’s Olsen’s willingness to develop her sound that is really the most gratifying aspect of Burn Your Fire For No Witness

American Songwriter

For those prepared to hunker down and get immersed in Angel Olsen’s laconic, often downbeat echoes on depressing life events many of us have experienced, it’s a startlingly uncompromising, if occasionally uncomfortable peek into her haunted dreams.


Unyielding and stalwart in its devotion to the verities of confessional, folk-tinged balladry, No Witness is a difficult album to play unless you're ready to accept Olsen's self-questioning pinpricks.

Northern Transmissions

Burn Your Fire does not break the indie-rock mold, but it is exciting to hear Olsen working outside of her comfort zone.

Rolling Stone

Burn Your Fire for No Witness deflects Olsen's intensities with humor and her humor with an intimate mysticism. It's a balanced album by a spirit who seems anything but.

Top Favorite: White Fire
Other Favorites: Windows, Unfucktheworld, Enemy
Least Favorite: Iota
each song on this hurts my heart
Lovely album by Angel Olsen. Shows very strong songwriting and becomes a very engaging listen. Favorite songs include Hi-Five, White Fire,Lights Out,and Iota.
Olsen's vocals are beautiful and they really shine on this LP. Loving the more rock-driven tracks on this album and there are some beautiful slower acoustic tracks on here too. Some of my favourite tracks include "Forgiven/Forgotten", "Stars", and the closing track to this album "Windows".

Tracks like "White Fire" and "Enemy" move a little too slow for my liking, they kind of break the pace of the album and the two are the longest tracks ... read more
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Track List

  1. Unfucktheworld
  2. Forgiven/Forgotten
  3. Hi-Five
  4. White Fire
  5. High & Wild
  6. Lights Out
  7. Stars
  8. Iota
  9. Dance Slow Decades
  10. Enemy
  11. Windows
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Added on: November 14, 2013