by Jeff Niesel
Angel Olsen, who plays Ingenuity tomorrow night at 8:30, has a really unique voice. She sounds a bit like a cross between Roy Orbison and Lauryn Hill. While growing up in St. Louis, Olsen started singing and making her own DIY recordings at any early age. “I was always interested in singing,” she says. “I was adopted so having a creative outlet that like was great. I remember I used to have this karaoke tape machine. I would play a mix tape of my favorite pop music and sing over it.”
She eventually started writing what she calls “weird keyboard music” before moving to Chicago and joining the neo-folk Cairo Gang. In 2010, she released her debut, Strange Cacti, on cassette, and has slowly started to gain a small following that appreciates her unique vocals. Her latest album, last year’s Halfway Home, is a collection of richly textured folk tunes, and paired her with a producer for the first time.
“I had always done everything myself,” she says. “I still don’t like it when people help me. This was my attempt to let someone help me out with production. Listening to the record now, there are things I would want to change. But I’ve just finished the next album and it has a totally different approach. It’s more interesting to me to record rather than perform.”
Olsen says she'll play a few of the new songs tomorrow night at Ingenuity.