Angel Olsen - All Mirrors
Oct 3, 2019
90
There's a line in Olsen's debut EP that reads:

"Please don't confuse me
with your devastating stare-downs
I'll hold your mirror up
All you have to do is turn around.
So you can see the face you make
When are giving out your soul.
Are you the only one who doesn't already know?"

The figure in question certainly gets called out during the track, and so they should, but if "If It's Alive, It Will" is an indication of anything, it's that we tend to be the most critical of something when we see it in ourselves.

I'm not one for theorizing, but I couldn't help but ponder this in the weeks leading up to this release. Olsen is unquestionably a personal writer. It's evident in whatever project you listen to, but what if each release has been a "mirror" (so to speak) for herself to look into? To look back on? Each album looks into different aspects of her life. Now that she's completely surrounded by "mirrors", she has no choice but to look deep inside herself now. Stripped of her pride, "Strange Cacti" was centered on Olsen's dwindling faith in the face of spiritual depravity and hopelessness, yet the singles leading up to "All Mirrors" serve as a direct contrast. Depicting Olsen in some sort of ball. A celebration even. After nearly a decade of music...has she found something in herself worth cherishing despite her adversity? A form of metamorphosis after a long, transitional period?

"All this trouble tryin' to catch right up with me
I keep movin', knowin' someday that I will be
Standin', facin', all mirrors are erasin'
Losin' beauty, at least at times it knew me."

The answer is a resounding yes! To say Olsen completely unravels herself here is a severe understatement. Overwhelmingly beautiful and heavenly humbled is how I'd put it. Even in her starkest moments, Olsen is an almost celestial deity that can't be stopped for anything. Dare I say, this may be the culmination of her career up to this point. Realizing her wants are a detriment. Growing from the past and learning to let it be, she wipes off the things that perturbed her the most for a clean slate while facing the new quarrels head on. ("Lark" is a prominent example that leaves me physically shaking each time I listen to it. She hit a spiritual sweet spot.)

It may not have been pretty getting to this place, but Olsen triumphs in almost every way imaginable. Her performances, arrangements, atmosphere and consistency are top notch! Even if the mixing feels a little off. (Granted, this sounds like it was intentionally made for speakers. Giving Olsen optimal room to sprawl.)

An exuberant and near indescribable example of "show, don't tell". From personal experience, I can tell you that this kind of revitalization and conviction is rare, special and deeply personal. Which, is even more compelling that Angel would go through the labor of sharing that experience with her audience. Whatever you do, hold this moment close and don't let it go.
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