Angel Olsen's Unique Voice Sets Her Apart




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.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.