After releasing her spellbinding studio album 'All Mirrors' near the end of last year, Angel Olsen was clearly riding a wave of serious inspiration. She had this singular vision about her work that gave the release one of the more captivating and engaging directions that we had heard all of last year. But since then, a serious breakup in her love life led her to reevaluate how she wanted to sound, so with the exception of two new offerings, the rest of 'Whole New Mess' is made up of stripped-back and more sombre renditions of 'All Mirrors' cuts, showing us a far more intimate side to her sound.
Recorded in a remote church on the Washington coast, 'Whole New Mess' has this incredibly haunting feeling to it. Forgoing her usual backing group for the length of the release, it is just Angel and her guitar in what feels like a dark and empty hole, crooning her way through these songs as best she can despite the clear pain in her voice. If anything, this new collection is a strong and vital reminder that these musicians we read about from day to day have their own lives and personal troubles to overcome, giving her this far more vulnerable angle and letting us see the bare bones of who she really is.
While it may come off as more therapeutic for her to release than it was for us to hear it, 'Whole New Mess' does make for a smooth and tranquil listen, giving us some of her rawest performances to date. Fans of 'All Mirrors' will also be keen to hear thees songs reworked under a new light but may not have the same instantly engaged hook that the original record had.