Listening to Angel Olsen’s records used to feel like stumbling into an empty roadside pub and finding the greatest torch singer the world had ever forgotten. Singing about loneliness and distrust, her voice burned pure and intense whether the guitars were solo acoustic or electric and in the red. The intimacy of these early LPs made many fans feel like they were staring straight into their souls, generating a level of applause for legends of their own time that Olsen himself was sometimes ambivalent about.
No longer. Big time, Olsen’s sixth album, is a stunningly confident step into the spotlight, revealing a singer who can’t wait to tell you how great life can be. “Good-morning kisses, give you all mine/Pull back the curtains, show me the sun,” she sings on the title track, her voice ringing bright and smooth over a velvety country arrangement. She’s Roy Orbison, she’s Patsy Cline, she’s Willie Nelson. She’s Angel Olsen, to the core, making the last decade of her career feel like a warm-up.
She co-wrote this blissful title track with her real-life romantic partner Beau Thibodeaux, and while treating songwriting as autobiography can be dangerous, Olsen made a point of presenting it Big time as her first album since appearing as queer. happiness suits her; you can hear her breathing out with a new freedom in every song here, dappled by the sun tapestry Pianos from “Ghost On” to outstanding sixties pop Crescendo of “Right Now”. Some of them have darker lyrics than others — Olsen is candid about the everyday weight of grief on “This Is How It Works” — but what comes through most clearly is the contented melodic vibrancy she’s unleashed over the past few years. It’s a gift to hear an artist so content with who they are and what they are capable of.
That sentiment extends to the lush studio sound created by Olsen and co-producer Jonathan Wilson, the long-haired mystic who brought his Nashville-via-Laurel Canyon magic to Father John Misty and Dawes’ records. Kudos also to band member Drew Erickson for writing the string charts for this LP fresh from his work on Lana Del Reys Blue railings. Those are impressive résumés, but none of the guys have ever worked on a record as sincerely and joyfully as they do Big time, and the credit for that goes all the way to Angel. This album’s country beauty is a revelation after the gorgeous, somber orchestration that summoned it for 2019 All mirrors and stripped for 2020 Whole new messand a worthy payoff for fans who always knew she had a record like this within her.
towards the end Big time, Olsen switches things around with a dramatic crisis of confidence. “I wanna go home/Go back to small things,” sings Olsen on “Go Home.” “I don’t belong here/No one knows me.” Once she might have sung those words and sounded truly alone. What you hear this time, as the strings swell, is a star that’s never been further from disappearing.
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/angel-olsen-big-time-1359715/ Angel Olsen’s ‘Big Time’ – Rolling Stone