On May 7, Angel Olsen is releasing Song of the Lark and Other Far Memories, a vinyl box set featuring her last two albums, All Mirrors and Whole New Mess, as well as a bunch of other outtakes and remixes. As a glimpse of the goods it has in store, she’s already shared the previously unreleased “It’s Every Season (Whole New Mess)” and returns today with another offering in the form of “Alive and Dying (Waving, Smiling)”. She says:
“This song is all about chapters closing, and learning to let go of things I can’t understand. It’s very me – I will always nosedive into love, and suffering can definitely come with that. When I hear this version the strings really bring the song to its necessary bittersweet boiling point.”
Whereas the original, stripped-down version of “Waving, Smiling” we heard on last year’s Whole New Mess had notes of heartbreak and some triumph, the orchestrally imbued “Alive and Dying” brings a whole new range of emotions to the piece. The strings are in full bloom from the beginning, adding previously untapped pathos to Olsen’s tale, emphasising the nuance in her voice as she realises her hopes and fears at leaving her partner. “Bittersweet,” as Olsen says above, is truly the word, as “Alive and Dying” reaches an emotional apex of almost operatic proportions that can only leave us silently wondering how this didn’t make the original All Mirrors.