6 great Angel Olsen duets (with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Hamilton Leithauser, more)
Angel Olsen currently has three solo albums under her belt, and is set to release an outtakes/B-sides compilation Phases next month. In addition to those releases, Angel has recorded a solid collection of duets with other musicians over the years, all of which are unsurprisingly excellent. With this list, we take you through six songs that would not sound nearly as sweet without Angel’s presence.
Did we miss any great Angel Olsen duets? Let us know!
Hamilton Leithauser – “Heartstruck (Wild Hunger)”
In a statement, The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser described “Heartstruck” as “about catching yourself off guard when an emotion hits a little harder than you were ready for.” The track certainly hits hard emotionally, with both Hamilton and Angel showing off their respective vocal powers throughout. Hamilton just recently dropped the song as a single, and he has mentioned he has more new music too. New album soon?
Cass McCombs – “Opposite House”
A highlight from Cass McCombs’ brilliantly underrated 2016 record, Angel only appears briefly during the song’s transcendent hook, providing spacious background vocals under Cass’ desperate “Oh why?” She also makes an appearance in the song’s highly artistic video (directed by Jonny Look). While the track is certainly smooth and subdued, the jazz-inspired rhythm and Cass’ irresistible guitar motif are far too exciting to put you to sleep. If anything, it’s prone to make you hit “repeat” over and over again.
Alex Cameron – “Stranger’s Kiss”
Alex Cameron’s latest record Forced Witness (which featured past tourmate Angel Olsen on two tracks) displayed many clear influences such as Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, and they’re most evident on the Angel-featured “Stranger’s Kiss.” The track is aided by harmonizing saxophones and roaring synthesizers ripped straight from 80s rock radio, and Alex and Angel alternate passionately-sung verses and share vocals on the track’s romantic chorus. It’s a textbook duet, and it works out in both their favors.
Tim Kinsella – “This Time (Not The Next Time)”
As the album title suggests, Tim Kinsella Sings… features the Cap ‘n’ Jazz/Joan of Arc/Owls frontman singing the words of poet Marvin Tate, accompanied by music from Wilco’s LeRoy Bach, and featuring Angel Olsen on backing vocals. On the intimate “This Time (Not The Next Time),” Kinsella and Angel harmonize over softly-plucked, lo-fi guitars before giving way to a pretty, reverb-soaked instrumental bridge. It’s a wonderful track, and reinforces the fact that Angel’s voice has never lent itself to a bad tune. The entire album can be streamed here.
Chivalrous Amoekons (Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Angel Olsen) – “Oblivion”
In late 2016, past collaborators Angel and Will Oldham (aka Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy), plus members of The Cairo Gang, teamed up for a Mekons covers album under the name Chivalrous Amoekons. The lead single from the covers LP “Oblivion” has Angel and Oldham trading verses, and harmonizing during the chorus, which was originally performed by a single lead vocal. The track transforms the original’s fusion of punk and new wave into a slice of fuzzy psychedelic nostalgia.
How To Dress Well – Windows (“very unofficial htdw duet edit”)
Alright, so this one’s kind of a stretch, but How to Dress Well (aka Tom Krell) uses the word “duet” himself (“very unofficial” duet, that is), so we’re going with it. Leading up to the release of his then-upcoming album What Is This Heart?, HTDW released a mixtape featuring music that inspired “What Is This Heart?” and some covers/edits by Tom himself. One of the edits is this brief snippet of Tom adding his own vocals to “Windows,” the stunning closer of Angel Olsen’s great 2014 album Burn Your Fire For No Witness. Although it isn’t a true “duet,” it does provide a unique new take on the already-great original version. You can hear it at around the 13:10 mark.