A Love Letter To: Angel Olsen
By Lola Stephen
Your music has shaped me in more ways than I could ever know.
I had always been aware of your presence, through songs placed on various playlists I’d constructed over the years, passed onto me from friends recommendations and my own discoveries. But it wasn’t until the start of last year that your music and influence truly captivated me and I understood your work in every way.
The fuel for this connection was when I experienced a break up with someone who I wouldn’t call my boyfriend and who would never call me his girlfriend, but it was the first I’d ever experienced and the hurt was unlike anything I’d ever imagined.
The morning after I sat on my sofa alone, staring out through the double doors, over the balcony to view of the city, and let My Woman wash over me. I must’ve played the record about five or six times that day as I went through the motions of anger, insecurity, sadness, and ultimately freedom.
I threw myself around to Shut Up Kiss Me and felt the line “It’s all over baby but I’m still yours” so deep in my bones. Your question “Was it me you were thinking of all the time you thought of me… or was it another?” in Heart Shaped Face mirrored the very one that was pulsing around my head, and the pivotal “I dare you to understand what makes me woman” in Woman echoed through me, putting everything I was feeling into words that I never could.
I let your own heartbreak, pain and emotions weave into mine, finding great comfort in knowing you too had experienced what I was feeling and that you had created an extraordinary piece of art because of it.
Being vulnerable, present and honest with my feelings is something I’ve always struggled with, especially in my own writing and work. I’ve always preferred to write about other people, giving room for their thoughts in order to avoid admitting my own. But listening, and really listening to My Woman and being so in awe of your ability to communicate these deep emotions and place them right there for the world to pickup and listen to, has given me the strength to open up, realising that I’m ultimately only pushing against and damaging myself both creatively and emotionally.
Watching you perform and listening to your albums has given me the confidence to do what I’d always wanted to do, which is to create music too, and have since embarked on the journey putting together bits and pieces scribbled into journals and typed into essays over melodies I found in my head.
So thank you Angel, thank you endlessly for being so vulnerable and raw in your work. Thank you for sharing what most find so difficult to confront, let alone share in a way as openly and as beautiful as you do. Thank you for delivering these difficult emotions so preciously in each of your live performances (I’ve watched most of them online), ultimately healing those you sing to and I’m sure parts of yourself too.
Your honesty in your art is as inspiring as it is important.
Please continue to share your world with us, because it means the world to me.
Originally published in Love Letters Issue 001.