Gaming Editor Benjamin Oakden reviews the atmospheric and soulful new single by Angel Olsen
Angel Olsen’s new single Nothing’s Free is an intimate and soulful song, perhaps providing a preview of an exciting new direction for the singer/songwriter. The song, which will appear on her new EP Forever Means, due to release this April, is a refreshing change in musical style compared to her last album, Big Time (2022), while maintaining the same honest, personal lyrics.
Unlike the country inspired music that made up Big Time, Nothing’s Free takes its inspiration from soul and jazz music, featuring delicate piano playing and a smooth instrumental section of saxophone and organ solos. The song is uncharacteristically light on lyrics, featuring only a single verse and chorus, which gives a lot of space for the instruments to build the song’s atmosphere.
The lyrics that are included are on-point, with Olsen’s voice lending itself just as well to soul as it does to country and folk music. Much like the songs on Big Time, the lyrics draw heavy inspiration from her personal life. Nothing’s Free, according to Olsen, is about a ‘break in self-denial’, and refers to her coming to terms with her homosexuality. There’s a lot of vulnerability in her lyrics, singing that the ‘cell’ of denial had kept her safe, and that the release of those metaphoric chains had caused her pain. This is contrasted with a bold acceptance that accepting her identity is the right choice – ‘I’ve never been more sure of anything’.
This leaves Nothing’s Free as a worthy edition to Olsen’s catalogue. It features the same reflective, personal lyrics that has brought her so much acclaim, while pushing her musical style forward in a beautifully soulful direction.
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