New Music – Sister / Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen is writing some of the best songs of the year. ‘Sister’ caps off the holy trinity of ‘Intern’ and ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’, each showing different elements of Olsen’s new album, MY WOMAN. ‘Sister’ is a bit of a throwback to Burn Your Fire…, at least at the beginning. Then it all goes 70s soft-rock (think the best parts AKA Fleetwood Mac) and the instrumentation fights with Olsen’s repeated statement ‘All my life I thought I’d change’ and there’s two guitar solos, the second as uplifting as the culminating chorus of ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’. Particularly in the first verse, when Olsen sings ‘From the sleeping life I lead / All the colours I’ve seen / I can’t help but recognize / The brighter one in front of me’ could be about the love of a sister or family always being there, and even when she thinks she needs the love of another person who isn’t part of family, she doesn’t recognise the greater love. But then the line ‘I want to follow / My heart down that wild road’ shows she knows it doesn’t make sense, but she’s going to try for both ways, to love family and love a partner, because even if you ‘fall apart’, you ‘fall together’. That’s the way I took it anyway, but it’s left unclear. Perhaps that’s the entire idea, that it’s unclear. And it is a song about life, and the ways we know it is scary and wild and unpredictable, but we take risks anyway, just because we want to ‘live life’. There’s no logic, but that’s life.