Genius Steals

Possibly attributable to the great thief and aphorist Oscar Wilde:

“Talent borrows – genius steals.”

It is sometimes surprising when something can trip our tastes and tip the scales of our opinions. What if that something is stolen?

Angel Olsen

If you’ve liked but not loved Angel Olsen, and you are a wild fan Annie Lennox and her work in the duo Eurythmics with Dave Stewart, prepare for a tripping and a tipping. Olsen’s lovely new work, consciously or not, reaches into the past for a Lennox-y vibe that embodies both nimbleness and strength. Her new album is due this week.

Olsen’s newest singles, Lark, along with the title track, All Mirrors, are already available to listen to. The pairing of her exquisite singing with the huge sweep of cinematic production on the latter song is thrilling.

I love what Sam Sodomsky wrote about Olsen in his Pitchfork review of the song All Mirrors: “Some of Olsen’s songs feel like they’ve always existed—lost country standards or themes from old romantic films…” That seems just right – and in addition to reminders of Annie Lennox in All Mirrors, think of the best James Bond film themes like Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever.

This is so confident, so big, and so beautiful.

All Mirrors by Angel Olsen from All Mirrors out 4 October (2019 Jagjaguwar).

This staggering song of deep longing and the willingness to risk everything to make a human connection will celebrate its 35thanniversary in November. Wow–I love it beyond description.

Annie Lennox

For the Love of Big Brother by Eurythmics from 1984 (For the Love Of Big Brother) music from the motion picture Nineteen Eighty-four (1984 Virgin).

Another track that is available to hear and also feels like it has existed forever is Haim’s Summer Girl. At first, it seemed like a guilty pleasure pop song, and on repeated listens it revealed itself as a genius reworking of elements from a couple of masterful mega-pop songs: Annie Lennox’s Why, and Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed. There is the propulsive trap and bass line essentially lifted from Reed’s song and modified to move us along. Summer Girl even features a rework of Reed’s signature “doo, doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo” Also, there are the horns and strings that are mixed in David Bowie’s production of Reed’s song. Near Summer Girl’s end, there is an elegantly rapped set of lyrics that are inflected and driving the song in the way Lennox rapped/sang the insistent, familiar pleas of Why.

Summer Girl by Haim (2019 Polydor).

Why by the brilliantAnnie Lennox from Diva (1992 RCA/Arista).

Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed from Transformer (1972 RCA).

1 Oct 2019

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