Angel Olsen is cool with being a blossoming singer-songwriter endlessly touring in her moment of success, but she’d really like a night at home every once in a while.
“2017 was like a ‘yes’ year,” Olsen says from Asheville, N.C., her home base. “We played all the festival circuits. It’s a big band and I wanted to make it worthwhile and that means being on the road, you know? I like that we have to tour because I think it challenges people who are really good at recording and making an image for themselves to challenge it by doing that in front of people over and over again. I really like to see what happens from the time I record to the time I’ve performed that record live for a year-and-a-half.”
If she gets her way, 2018 will involve time in Joshua Tree with friends and a trip to Hawaii, the one state she’s yet to visit. But first, there’s a tour to attend to, which begins tonight in Lincoln, Neb., on the heels of the announcement of her upcoming compilation record, “Phases,” due in November.
Olsen, 30, was raised in St. Louis after being adopted by a foster family as a toddler and launched her career as a backup singer with Bonnie “Prince” Billy and The Cairo Gang. Asheville has been home for the past four years, since she followed a love interest to the city after leaving Chicago.
“I’d been touring for the first time for my music. I’d been traveling for the first time around the country and I didn’t think I needed to be in Chicago anymore,” she says of leaving the Midwest for the south. “A lot of my friends have moved to New York City or L.A. or other places and some friends definitely still were there but I didn’t feel like I connected to it anymore. Asheville was just a place where people aren’t just trying to get up the ladder. Last night I went to a documentary about Ferguson called “Whose Streets” and there was a Q&A afterwards and it was really political and intense, and after that I went to a gospel night at this place called The Double Crown; there are gospel bands that come play and they’re all wearing suits and people are drinking whiskey and jamming out to gospel and it’s f–king awesome. Stuff like that happens here but you don’t see it all the time because it’s such a small community.”
Olsen’s third full-length studio album, “My Woman,” was released last fall, and this November’s “Phases” sees her finding a risk-taking side.
“Some of them are really raw — I tried to equalize them to make sure they weren’t too hurtful for the ear,” she says of the tracks on “Phases.” “I wanted to put out something that was solo material again. I think ‘Phases’ is my way of being like ‘I’m still myself and these things are still part of me and I still start with this phase.’ And this phase is just me alone.”
In the coming year, she says the goal is to become more experimental and less fearful of losing her audience — that, and some time off.
“Every time I talk to a singer-songwriter they want to make a record like Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska,’ and everyone rolls their eyes like ‘You can’t make an album like Nebraska right now,’” she says, rather confidently. “But I’m like ‘I could totally do that, and I totally want to.’”
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