Angel Olsen – Big Time
The sixth album from US songwriter Angel Olsen is a glorious symphony in love, loss and alt-country
Angel Olsen’s sixth full-length record might be one of the most aptly-titled of recent years. Big Time thematically chronicles a period of considerable transition in her personal life, dealing as it does not only with her coming out as gay but also, the loss shortly afterwards in quick succession of her parents. On top of that, though, this is an album that feels as if it might represent her break into the big time, a record that, regardless of whether it’s trading in drama or intimacy, is also her most accessible work to date.
Those familiar with the eccentric stylistic slalom of Olsen’s third album, My Woman, will know how it sounds when she tilts towards Laurel Canyon-inspired alt-country; there were similar flashes of such predilections on the 2017 odds-and-ends collection Phases and 2020 LP Whole New Mess, a quickfire affair that had been recorded in the summer of 2018. On Big Time, she takes that rustic inclination to its natural conclusion, from the gorgeous, wistful longing of opener All the Good Times to the woozy, doo-wop-inflected Ghost On, via the haunting Through the Fires and the Emmylou Harris-worthy folk-pop breeze of the title track.
Long time fans of Olsen’s, though, will know that she’s at her most potent when she aims for the epic, and the centrepiece of Big Time comprises the powerful one-two of Right Now and This Is How It Works, both of which are gradually unfolding epics. The album as a whole is a strong argument for Olsen being her generation’s finest songwriter; perhaps now, the rest of the world will recognise that, too.
Listen to: Big Time, Right Now, This Is How It Works