Angel Olsen has made an unforgettable and entrancing record. Burn Your Fire for No Witness is the musical equivalent of a deep, questioning stare from a lover, and what draws me to her voice is its peaceful, subtle touch. It has me leaning in to listen. Leonard Cohen does that, too, and it’s a fine line to walk between pale and enchanting. These are delicate songs, with lyrics stripped to their essence. “White Fire,” the song that has the title of the album buried deep within, dispenses one killer line after another, including this:
I heard my mother thinking me right back into my birth
I laughed so loud inside myself it all began to hurt
John Congleton produced Burn Your Fire for No Witness, a record full of songs that took shape in Asheville, N.C., last summer. Olsen is working with a new band, including Josh Jaeger on drums and bass player Stewart Bronaugh. With Congleton’s help, the trio found ways to make these songs calm and combustible. I’ve been living with this music for a few months, and it’s become my friend, my comfort; it shakes me, saddens me and lifts me.