For some, it may prove tempting to call My Woman a throwback. And there’s some truth to that assertion.
The third full-length from Asheville-based singer and songwriter Angel Olsen (available now via Jagjaguar) dips its more fervent rock numbers in decadent, detailed production that alternately recalls Phil Spector excess and sumptuous slapback. “Sister,” one of the album’s two smoldering, seven-and-a-half-minute epics, might well be the best Fleetwood Mac song that the icons didn’t put to tape during their mid-to-late ‘70s heyday, patiently building beneath Olsen’s piercing warble (at times a dead ringer for that of a young Stevie Nicks) to a crescendo that rivals the thrilling heights of a song like “Silver Springs.”
Indeed, the Fleetwood Mac connection here is remarkably strong — for me, the closest analog to the album’s deceptively coherent pop-rock timehopping is 1979’s Tusk, an album that mingled myriad shades of pop music’s then immediate past with the band’s patented arena-ready craftsmanship.
But like Tusk, My Woman is very much an album of its moment, a powerfully emotional merger of styles that could only happen at this point in time. Take the opening tandem of “Intern” and “Never Be Mine.” The former is an ’80s-indebted synth-pop lullaby that achingly dissects loneliness and modern detachment — ”Doesn’t matter what you do or what you’ve done / Still got to wake up and be someone,” Olsen sings, her rich and deliberate coo weighted down with anxiety. The second song narrows the focus to romantic frustration, with bright and full ‘50s-era rock failing in the most beautiful way to lift Olsen as she pines for a love she’ll never have.
The rest of My Woman follows suit, offering a neat summation of pop music’s continued power, cataloging sounds that came before as a means to deal with the emotional wreckage that clutters our lives.