Plucked by Will Oldham to be part of the iconic folkie’s backing band, The Cairo Gang, Chicago singer-songwriter darling Angel Olsen‘s tales of wombs, tiny seeds and the universe got a whole lot more existential the moment her debut LP, Half Way Home, dropped back in the fall of 2012. Not that she wasn’t already headed that way – this is a twenty-something who closed her first EP with a post-war ballad of a middle finger from ‘creator‘ to ‘destroyer’. Likely the sweetest one you’ll ever hear: [LISTEN]

Fuck this and everything we’ve done
Fuck you,
Fuck you and your lies

Of course there are metaphors at play – usually swirling around relationships – but what makes them so grand and pliable is Olsen’s hypnotizing, prairie-burned vocal stamp that can go from belle to Nina Nastasia dressed in black at the turn of a verse, weaving an incredibly controlled vibrato that never quite takes flight, keeping things nice and soft-focused, making it hard to believe there’s never a beam of sunlight coming through a window to kiss the body of her guitar. That and the way she sneaks some humor in there, too, like Half Way Home‘s opener “Acrobat:” [LISTEN]

Who cares I’m not a moralist
I’m just a lady with some time

When she lets loose, it’s a strident thing, combining all these dynamics into a sweeping blend of Americana you’ve got to be hibernating to not warm up to this winter with. Start with the Astral Weeks slow-roll guitar tone on that aforementioned tiny seed metaphor as the one that’s “simple” and “wild,” and try not to harmonize along with some new breaths comforting an age old yearn:

Where is my harmony?
Where is my friend?
Her voice I hear loud and clear
Only now in my head

When did the time become
Something that I feel?
And now as I disappear
Someone else becomes real
As real as the smallest star
Borne into a child
It’s known that the tiniest seed
Is both simple and wild