Angel Olsen – Big Time

Angel Olsen’s new album Big Time is here! Yes her real name is Angel short for Angelina, and she certainly has the voice of one. This singer-songwriter from St. Louis, Missouri writes indie folk/rock mixed with alternative country. Recently, she has relocated to the small mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina. Just like the lot of us, Angel has been through very hard times in the last few years, but she’s been through a couple of life changing events. She’s been public in saying that she’s grieving the loss of her parents. This last year they both passed away in quick succession. Not long after, Olsen found love and came out to them. 

Big Time is not a “pandemic album.” It is an album about loss and love. Giving it a listen you find comfort in her sadness.

Her last album was more alternative and experimented with sounds and synths. Big Time is her 6th full length album and focused around acoustic instruments and pedal steel. Angel Olsen seems to be exploring her roots in an alternative-folk-sounds-like-retro-country album. Not the stomp and holler kind of country, more like tumbleweeds and lonesome blue skies country.

“All the Good Times” starts the album off as a swinging ballad; it feels like a dreamy, 1960s summertime classic. This song starts off with the chorus “I can’t say that I’m sorry, when I don’t feel so wrong anymore” as the first line. Overall this song sounds like a goodbye-but-I-love-you letter; she calmly accepts it. Even as a horn section blares out in the end, they stop just before she says “thanks for the freeride and all of the good times.”

“Big Time” is understandably the title track of the album. The chorus reads “And I’m losing, I’m losing, I’ve left it behind. Guess I had to be losing to get here on time And I’m living, I’m loving, I’ve loved long before, And I’m loving you big time, I’m loving you more.” It captures the theme of the entire album—note that there is more love than loss in these few lines.

“Dream Thing” has four verses that sort of builds up to two soft choruses at the end. The song tells a story of someone else changing. Throughout the album I appreciated Angel Olsen’s alternative song structures.

“Ghost On” is a sweet swaying song that’s perfect for slow dancing. My favorite line in this song is “And I don’t know if you can love someone stronger than you’re used to.” Overall it sounds like she’s not sure if she deserves the love that she’s found.

“All The Flowers” seems to continue this theme of trying to love yourself and be loved by someone else. However, this song is perhaps the most vague on the album, so it’s up for interpretation. 

“Right Now” has arguably the best chorus in the album when the drums come in Olsen belts out “Why’d you have to go and make it weird?” It’s just so catchy and dynamic. It has a great electric guitar part and an effect on her voice.

“This Is How It Works” sounds like it’s about her going through a new type of sadness. It’s unfamiliar, it hurts, it’s a hard time (again). The first line of the song says “I’ve never been too sad so sad that I couldn’t share.” It’s an honest song about depression.

Where a lot of the other songs have themes of inner change, “Go Home” song sounds like it’s about things you cannot change. The line that stands out in this song is “I’m dancing, baby but I feel like dying.”

“Through The Fire” is a 1940s sort of ballad with a grand piano and a string section. This song seems to be about facing her feelings and her fears. Despite this being difficult, it’s something she can get through.

“Chasing The Sun” might as well be at the end of a black and white film as the lead character drives away into the sunset. This album seems to have a happy ending with Angel Olsen disappearing with someone she loves.

Overall, this album is completely made up of ballads in the traditional sense. They’re set to a slow tempo and they have themes of love and loss. They’re tragic and also heroic as the protagonist conquers her own feelings. It’s about this sometimes ever present sadness that she’s struggled with before. But she seems to gain a better understanding of this sadness and herself this time around.

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Listen to the full album here:

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