Angel Olsen: Aisles EP [Album Review]

Angel Olsen
Aisles EP
Somethingscosmic/Jagjaguwar [2021]

Ever walk through the store shopping and whatever is playing over the speakers as background noise catches your attention? We have all been there – humming some “Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon” from Culture Club looking for a shirt, singing along with Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” as you are looking for the “some pulp” orange juice or breaking out the massive air drums to Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight,” while holding a basket full of goods. I am positive you have and it is no different for Angel Olsen as she now wanted to have fun recording these five covers that she heard while shopping for groceries.

You hear Olsen talk about fun but this EP is still handled with the same care and focus like her previous records. The five track Aisles EP features “Gloria” (Laura Branigan), “Eyes Without A Face” (Billy Idol), “Safety Dance” (Men Without Hats), “If You Leave” (Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark) and “Forever Young” (Alphaville) so there were plenty of directions to go here. Most of the time, Olsen plays to her vocal strengths and slows these tracks down so that her emotive chords take over the song and make them her own. “Gloria” snails along at such a slow tempo that at first it is harder to recognize but I really liked how Olsen builds the song as there are different pinnacle points in her version compared to the original. “Eyes Without A Face” is one of the most straightforward covers you will hear on the album before her strobing and spacey rendition of “Safety Dance” will spin you around and around as the song drifts to a much different place. “If You Leave,” keeps a more upbeat delivery which is faithful while the closing “Forever Young” lets Olsen express her own joy in doing this covers album.

The takeaway you will have from the Aisles EP is that Angel Olsen’s voice shines over and over. That is why you paid the price of admission here and she delivers. Olsen makes every song work here in her favor and fans won’t leave disappointed. I think it is always hard to raise the bar too much with cover records but this one meets all expectations. I even think that a year from now you will be able to put this album on and still enjoy every single note which makes these five songs even more special.

Angel Olsen Review History: All Mirrors (2019) / Phases (2017)My Woman (2016)

Angel Olsen Website
Angel Olsen Facebook
Jagjaguwar Records

Thomas Wilde

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