11 Songs, 48 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

As befitting its title, Angel Olsen’s fourth full-length album is in fact two albums. There’s a stripped-down guitar-centric version, much in league with what one might expect from the Asheville, North Carolina-based singer-songwriter, which will be released on its own at some point in the future. And then there’s this: those same songs, exploded with lush arrangements that maximise unease. “For me, it was like a chapter shift,” Olsen tells Apple Music of the follow-up to her 2016 breakthrough MY WOMAN. “I did what I wanted to do in the last record—I got to make the record of my dreams. This one was less about trying to make that statement or take ownership over everything. The values in my life switched from wanting to be bigger and more important and more interesting to just wanting to find my community.“ Nevertheless, the songs are as big and important and interesting as they come, using grand orchestral flourishes to alternately lull and disorient. “It was so fucking emotional and hard for me to make," Olsen says. ”It was so directly about things in my life. And then I had to share them with new people. I needed to do something and trust it, even if I was on an island.” Olsen walks through All Mirrors’ 11 tracks.

Lark
“‘Lark’ is a lot of different songs in one. The original demo of that song still speaks to me personally the most, because it's very free-form. It's an example of the writing process for me, and it's very, very cinematic. I'm not saying that to be pretentious. I think of things visually, which is why I direct my videos sometimes. I think of narratives, and that song is an example of different angles of viewing the same kind of love. And it's such a weird, intense beginning, and then after that you can release and listen to the record.”

All Mirrors
“The first song I wrote for the record. I don't know where exactly it came from, but I guess I was thinking about the theme of projecting oneself onto another in order to see yourself; that's how you make your initial connection with them. The record, to me, is about deep disappointments, not only in romance but in friendship, and finding out what your true values are and what other people's are. How often we look for ourselves in others but we're not listening to them or actually getting to know them. That is the struggle with trying to find true love—whether it's true love in friendship, work or in romance. That has been an all-encompassing theme.”

Too Easy
“In the original, I'm playing guitar and I'm by myself and it's very from-the-heart. And on this version, it's more of a manic state. It comes across as 'I figured it out, I found love and everything is bigger than it is and I'm so happy', but it's creepy. Often when we think we're having epiphanies, we're not actually having epiphanies—we're in a manic state.”

New Love Cassette
“I love how the strings come in when they do—they surprise you. When I was 15 or 16, I used to carry around a Panasonic tape recorder, and my obsession was to record and re-record and try to find my voice; that's where that title comes from. But the background of the actual song is more about me wanting to make a themed cassette one day that was all love songs. It's a weird one to include; it doesn't really relate to the material of the record, but at the same time, I just liked the theme of me returning to myself.”

Spring
“I looked around at some of my friends that are getting married and having kids and how we used to be when we were in our early twenties, saying, ‘I'm never going to live in the suburbs, I'm never going to own a house, I'm going to sleep on floors on tours for life.' But then eventually life happens to you and your values change and suddenly you have a child in your arms. And how beautiful that is and how unashamed you are when you feel that feeling and how, actually, it starts to make more sense why people want community and family. And so that song is, to me, one of the happiest on the record.”

What It Is
“This has more of a sense of humour about what we think our hearts are. The hardest thing to admit to yourself is that you just want to fill a void with someone and they’re filling a void with you. Sometimes we're just doing that when we think we're in love.”

Impasse
“‘Impasse’ is specifically about being a writer and a musician and people coming to conclusions about what they think that is for me and how I've changed because of it. A lot of people assume that I've always had success and I've never had to deal with loss, I've never had to deal with pain or trouble in any way. But in fact, I come from a poor family, and I never went to school for this shit. I never thought I would be in the chair I'm sitting in. Your happiness is something they covet, and your success is something people covet, and they could never understand that you actually worked really hard to get there.”

Tonight
“‘Absolutely, 100% a song about leaving someone and finding I'm more myself alone and that I don't fear being alone the way that the person made me think I would. It is really just about being at peace without having someone else to validate me or take care of me. Because when you really have changed, you don't need to shout it in the streets. It's just what you are.”

Summer
“I love playing that song because it's really upbeat and reminds me of Dylan's Desire—it has that rhythm to it, you feel like you're riding a horse through a Technicolor desert. But in actuality, the words are very sad. People think of summer as a really light and happy time, but during this time that I was on tour for MY WOMAN and writing these songs, I was having a really hard shift in my life, and a lot of depression hit me in the middle of the most beautiful days of summer.”

Endgame
“‘Endgame’ is about needing communication and understanding and patience from someone who actually wants to be there and seek out my changes and call me on them. That song is less about romantic loss and more about the loss of friendship because of this change.”

Chance
“I didn't love the recording of it very much, and now I just feel in love with it as a closing statement, because it's a way of saying, 'Look, I have hope for the next thing in my life.' I'm not going to anticipate negativity or hate or an end. But instead of us looking towards forever, why don't we just work on right now? I'm not saying this because I'm trying to be a therapist or anything; just because I can articulate it in song doesn't mean I actually have the agency or experiences of facilitating it in my own life. In fact, it's quite the opposite—a lot of these things are just self-realisations that I put into song and want to share with people. That's the one I ended with.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

As befitting its title, Angel Olsen’s fourth full-length album is in fact two albums. There’s a stripped-down guitar-centric version, much in league with what one might expect from the Asheville, North Carolina-based singer-songwriter, which will be released on its own at some point in the future. And then there’s this: those same songs, exploded with lush arrangements that maximise unease. “For me, it was like a chapter shift,” Olsen tells Apple Music of the follow-up to her 2016 breakthrough MY WOMAN. “I did what I wanted to do in the last record—I got to make the record of my dreams. This one was less about trying to make that statement or take ownership over everything. The values in my life switched from wanting to be bigger and more important and more interesting to just wanting to find my community.“ Nevertheless, the songs are as big and important and interesting as they come, using grand orchestral flourishes to alternately lull and disorient. “It was so fucking emotional and hard for me to make," Olsen says. ”It was so directly about things in my life. And then I had to share them with new people. I needed to do something and trust it, even if I was on an island.” Olsen walks through All Mirrors’ 11 tracks.

Lark
“‘Lark’ is a lot of different songs in one. The original demo of that song still speaks to me personally the most, because it's very free-form. It's an example of the writing process for me, and it's very, very cinematic. I'm not saying that to be pretentious. I think of things visually, which is why I direct my videos sometimes. I think of narratives, and that song is an example of different angles of viewing the same kind of love. And it's such a weird, intense beginning, and then after that you can release and listen to the record.”

All Mirrors
“The first song I wrote for the record. I don't know where exactly it came from, but I guess I was thinking about the theme of projecting oneself onto another in order to see yourself; that's how you make your initial connection with them. The record, to me, is about deep disappointments, not only in romance but in friendship, and finding out what your true values are and what other people's are. How often we look for ourselves in others but we're not listening to them or actually getting to know them. That is the struggle with trying to find true love—whether it's true love in friendship, work or in romance. That has been an all-encompassing theme.”

Too Easy
“In the original, I'm playing guitar and I'm by myself and it's very from-the-heart. And on this version, it's more of a manic state. It comes across as 'I figured it out, I found love and everything is bigger than it is and I'm so happy', but it's creepy. Often when we think we're having epiphanies, we're not actually having epiphanies—we're in a manic state.”

New Love Cassette
“I love how the strings come in when they do—they surprise you. When I was 15 or 16, I used to carry around a Panasonic tape recorder, and my obsession was to record and re-record and try to find my voice; that's where that title comes from. But the background of the actual song is more about me wanting to make a themed cassette one day that was all love songs. It's a weird one to include; it doesn't really relate to the material of the record, but at the same time, I just liked the theme of me returning to myself.”

Spring
“I looked around at some of my friends that are getting married and having kids and how we used to be when we were in our early twenties, saying, ‘I'm never going to live in the suburbs, I'm never going to own a house, I'm going to sleep on floors on tours for life.' But then eventually life happens to you and your values change and suddenly you have a child in your arms. And how beautiful that is and how unashamed you are when you feel that feeling and how, actually, it starts to make more sense why people want community and family. And so that song is, to me, one of the happiest on the record.”

What It Is
“This has more of a sense of humour about what we think our hearts are. The hardest thing to admit to yourself is that you just want to fill a void with someone and they’re filling a void with you. Sometimes we're just doing that when we think we're in love.”

Impasse
“‘Impasse’ is specifically about being a writer and a musician and people coming to conclusions about what they think that is for me and how I've changed because of it. A lot of people assume that I've always had success and I've never had to deal with loss, I've never had to deal with pain or trouble in any way. But in fact, I come from a poor family, and I never went to school for this shit. I never thought I would be in the chair I'm sitting in. Your happiness is something they covet, and your success is something people covet, and they could never understand that you actually worked really hard to get there.”

Tonight
“‘Absolutely, 100% a song about leaving someone and finding I'm more myself alone and that I don't fear being alone the way that the person made me think I would. It is really just about being at peace without having someone else to validate me or take care of me. Because when you really have changed, you don't need to shout it in the streets. It's just what you are.”

Summer
“I love playing that song because it's really upbeat and reminds me of Dylan's Desire—it has that rhythm to it, you feel like you're riding a horse through a Technicolor desert. But in actuality, the words are very sad. People think of summer as a really light and happy time, but during this time that I was on tour for MY WOMAN and writing these songs, I was having a really hard shift in my life, and a lot of depression hit me in the middle of the most beautiful days of summer.”

Endgame
“‘Endgame’ is about needing communication and understanding and patience from someone who actually wants to be there and seek out my changes and call me on them. That song is less about romantic loss and more about the loss of friendship because of this change.”

Chance
“I didn't love the recording of it very much, and now I just feel in love with it as a closing statement, because it's a way of saying, 'Look, I have hope for the next thing in my life.' I'm not going to anticipate negativity or hate or an end. But instead of us looking towards forever, why don't we just work on right now? I'm not saying this because I'm trying to be a therapist or anything; just because I can articulate it in song doesn't mean I actually have the agency or experiences of facilitating it in my own life. In fact, it's quite the opposite—a lot of these things are just self-realisations that I put into song and want to share with people. That's the one I ended with.”

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