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Angel Olsen, 'All The Good Times'

"Burn your fire for no witness / It's the only way it's done," sang Angel Olsen nearly a decade ago on her breakthrough sophomore album, 2014's Burn Your Fire for No Witness. A folk minimalist on her earliest recordings, the singer-songwriter's sound has expanded and contracted across her career — candied, pop-leaning rock on 2016's MY WOMAN, synth-driven psychedelia on 2019's All Mirrors. But what's remained central to Olsen's work as a songwriter is her chillingly stoic sense of self-conviction, her songs' declarations of romantic and artistic independence.

In "All The Good Times," the opening track from her upcoming album, Big Time (due out June 3), Olsen makes witnesses of us all to a fire of a different kind – not an internal flame that drives the soul, but a scorching of the self. "I can't tell you I'm tryin' when there's nothin' left here to try for," Olsen sings, on the slow-burning, resignedly heartbroken country song in the vein of '60s Tammy Wynette. In between the music video's shots of Olsen's romantic memories are those of her crouched in the desert by a fire, to which she feeds old photos and notebook pages. Later, in her truck, Olsen leaves a version of herself in the dust, while simultaneously threatening to run down another doppelgänger. As Olsen's music continues to transform, presented here in the form of vintage country, so do the selves she chooses to perform – and those she burns to start anew.

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Hazel Cills
Hazel Cills is an editor at NPR Music, where she edits breaking music news, reviews, essays and interviews. Before coming to NPR in 2021, Hazel was a culture reporter at Jezebel, where she wrote about music and popular culture. She was also a writer for MTV News and a founding staff writer for the teen publication Rookie magazine.