Angel Olsen: Big Time review – sumptuous folk-rock balm

The sound of Angel Olsen’s albums may swing from raw to symphonic and back, but there are always open wounds in her music that no amount of polished production can cauterise. The Missouri singer-songwriter has lost both her parents and come out as queer since we last heard her on 2020’s Whole New Mess, and her elegant response at this point on the pendulum swing is a luxuriant sprawl of orchestral folk rock. These songs prove the truth of Philip Larkin’s line “What will survive of us is love”, and it’s telling that the title track is a love song rather than one of the more fretful tracks that flit through the album.

The most precious moments are the quieter ones – the hushed, quivering beauty of All the Flowers, or Right Now’s gentle crescendo into steely resolve. At times, Olsen edges too close to the billowing chiffon-and-ersatz emotion of power balladry – Dream Thing is particularly suspect – but sensational closer Chasing the Sun more than compensates. As several of her songs attest, music can be consolation in the most troubled times, and Big Time is a silky balm.