All posts by Paul Gill

ANGEL OLSEN – BURN YOUR FIRE FOR NO WITNESS

“Burn Your Fire for No Witness” is the second full-length LP by Missouri-born singer-songwriter Angel Olsen.

This LP, for this reviewer’s money, is of exceptional quality: lyrically and musically.

“Burn Your Fire for No Witness” marks something of a departure from her 2012 full-length debut, Half Way Home, and an even greater deviation from the marker she threw down in her 2011 break-out EP Strange Cacti.

Both of those releases were distinguished by Olsen’s most enduring qualities: stark honest writing coupled with rich siren-like vocals. The addition of a backing band and the prominence of grunge-era electric guitars buzzing in slacker elegance throughout much of this album, does little to change that.

What we have here is a collection of eleven beautifully crafted songs in equally simple but refreshingly effective arrangements: some of them are quiet, others are audibly much louder than what we’re used to when it comes to Angel Olsen.

What both these kinds of song manage to do is provoke and excite as well as humble in equal measure (“Hi-Five” and “Iota” spring to mind immediately), as Olsen has always done.

“Burn Your Fire for No Witness”, from a lyrical standpoint, is somewhat less opaque than any of Olsen’s previous work.

No one could accuse Olsen of being prescriptive in her approach to song-writing: her’s is wildly cosmic but ultimately very visceral – real.

Many of the songs on this LP deal with loneliness and estrangement within relationships and love more generally. Compared with her previous work, Olsen is evidently more confessional and frank in her writing.

“Unfucktheworld” is one such example of this and shows Angel Olsen at her very (usual) best. The album opener is a track that would not sound out of place on any of her previous work, but with the addition of John Congelton to this project is quite telling here: Olsen’s voice is almost a dull hum throughout, as if played through a tube amplifier. The effect is hauntingly beautiful.

All things considered, the opener here is Olsen’s default setting: voice and acoustic guitar draped in wet reverb driven by frank riveting lyrics. The real treats on this album come later in the shape of ‘new’ tracks – the raucous, sultry and louder numbers – “Forgiven/Forgotten”, “Hi-Five” and “Lights Out”.

As far as sophomore albums go, this is impressive. If this marks a change – a new direction – it is a positive one. As Angel Olsen’s overall sound evolves so too will her appeal widen, and that for me is no bad thing. On the strength of this album’s lyrics alone Olsen’s career should reach the cosmically spectral heights that bely her general ethereal aesthetic. Her voice may not be for everybody, but as a work of art this album has to be admired for its frankness and bravery.

DERRY HELD AT HOME BY PATS

Derry City were unlucky not to break their duck on Friday night with yet another chance at winning maximum points going begging. It ended nil all as Roddy Collins’ men hosted league champions St. Patrick’s Athletic at the Brandywell.

A goalless draw means a third straight draw at home for the Foylesiders, who will feel hard done by having seen the best chance of the match go begging in the dying embers of a game that at times was ill tempered and short on chances.

Michael Duffy, who recently signed a new contract with the Candystripes, saw a 93rd minute effort tipped over the bar by Pats ‘keeper Brendan Clarke. If such an effort had gone in it would have seen Derry’s fortunes transformed, instead the wait goes on for a first SSE Airtricity Premier League victory.

All in all, honors even seems a fair result. Friday night’s game was an entertaining draw even if it lacked the necessary goals and attacking football most fans at the game would have wanted. City should probably count their blessings as the visitors were denied what looked like a nail-on penalty in the first half. St. Pats striker Christy Fagan was brought down in the Derry penalty area by the towering figure of Ryan McBride only for the referee Paul McLaughlin to wave play on, much to the consternation of the travelling support.

Derry started the game quite brightly but saw that early impetus fade as current league-holders Pats came back with long-range efforts from Chris Forrester and former Derry player Killian Brennen. Both shots parried and caught respectively by the freshly recalled Ger Doherty.

Attacking highlights for the home side were restricted to the wider areas as the game went on with Derry wide men Dean Jarvis and Mark Stewart constantly running at their opposite numbers and attempting to centre the ball to the waiting Rory Patterson. A lot of effort with so little result demoralising an anxious home support.

As the game wore on play opened up somewhat. Derry forcing late corners that almost saw a vital breakthrough, indeed last season’s top goalscorer for the home side, Rory Patterson, should have scored a late winner, but the Derry striker blasted over from 12 yards.

All in all a fair result on the night, with both sides coming away with what will be seen on both sides as a vital point in a long and highly competitive league campaign.