Sweet Sirens of Melancholy Folk

Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten often sound one beat away from melting down.

Angel Olsen

Phases

Jagjaguwar 

Whether performing stark acoustic folk or giving her confessional songs a jolt of electricity, Angel Olsen always sounds like she’s one beat away from a complete meltdown. Intended to fill the gap between 2016’s triumphant My Woman and her next studio project, Phases is a collection of odds and ends that works surprisingly well as a coherent album. Compiling outtakes, demos and other ephemera, this riveting 12-track set includes a slow-burning, seven-minute “Special” that compares favorably with early Velvet Underground, and a compelling unplugged cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Tougher Than the Rest.” Regardless of setting, the centerpiece is Olsen’s tense, commanding voice, which creates the uneasy sensation of spying on someone else’s crisis.

 

Sharon Van Etten

(it was) because i was in love

Vinyl Me Please/self-release

An expanded edition of Sharon Van Etten’s 2009 debut shows another way to bide time until the next new release. Retitled slightly and adding two more tracks from the same era, (it was) because i was in love conveys a sense of emotional devastation not far removed from Olsen’s, but in a sweeter, gentler fashion. Van Etten’s melancholy folk-pop has acquired more polish over the years, but the wounded soul on display in “Consolation Prize” and “Tornado” hasn’t changed substantially. Fans who discovered Van Etten recently through her striking performance on the rebooted “Twin Peaks” won’t be disappointed by this haunting archival gem.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate