No Skip Saturday: Angel Olsen’s “All Mirrors


Welcome back to No-Skip Saturday, 2021 edition. Each week I look at an album I deem skip-less, where I can listen to the entire thing all-the-way-through as someone who is admittedly not the largest album-listener (playlists are just more my jam!) Since the start of the column I will admit I’ve become more of an album listener in my hunt to find the perfect albums to share with all of you. This week we’re looking at a cerebral, emotional album made by my North Carolina queen Angel Olsen: All Mirrors, released in 2019. Seeing Olsen perform the record live in November of 2019 is a treasured memory in my mind – this is the type of work that translates beautifully into a live performance, with overwhelming orchestral scores and her powerful voice soaring through the music. 

The album starts out with “Lark,” a deeply haunting and powerful song said by Olsen to tackle the topic of verbal abuse. The song is lilting and angry, something which can be said about much of the record. Olsen’s voice pierces through the lush strings singing, nearly yelling, “DREAM ON DREAM ON DREAM ON…” the track is haunting and mesmerizing, the sound overwhelming. The album’s title track, “All Mirrors” contains mesmerizing synth coupled with this same full orchestral sound. Not every song is equally intense in the album, tracks such as “New Love Cassette” coming in as the 4th track on the record, utilizes Olsen’s softer tones and pulsing beat, and still comes across as powerful, particularly in a final swell towards the end of the song. The track paints a picture of loving as much as possible, and Olsen has said it depicts the refreshing realities of a healthy love.

The fifth song on the album is my favorite, “Spring,” which tackles the changes of life as we move on, and how we can never really predict our futures when we are in the present. Olsen says “I’m beginning to wonder if anything’s real” “Guess we’re just at the mercy of the way that we feel.” The song is particularly meditative, combining piano with a flowing synth, and her emotive and, in my eyes, sad, lyrics cut through beautifully. 

That is what I love most about this album, and Olsen’s work in general. Simple yet profound lyrics that cut through with her powerful and unique voice, no matter what the volume or style. Olsen has said the album meant a lot about re-finding herself after a complicated breakup, letting go of confusion and past problems. As with many of my favorite albums the message behind the songs is why this is one I treasure so dearly, with lyrics such as “I wish it were true love I wish we were kissing” (Spring) and “And all those people I thought knew me well / After all that time, they couldn’t tell / I lost my soul, was just a shell / There was nothing left that I could lose” (Summer) depicting the experiences Olsen had with depression cutting through and giving each song on the record meaning. Overall, Olsen has created a powerful and emotional record, with each song telling a story of loss, anger, and eventually closure and a clear mind. 

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