At the center of every album is a musical thesis. This thesis can be the driving force behind the album, a theme that interweaves songs together, or a feeling you are left with after the very last song plays. With some albums, the thesis is easy to find. On others, it is hidden and requires you to be more than a passive listener. These reviews aren’t about rating an album. Instead, it is about uncovering a musical thesis.
Angel Olsen’s album, “Half Way Home,” is the epitome of heartbreak. Its sound alone is one of the saddest things I have ever heard. When you dig into the lyrics, it only gets heavier. Now, this may make you think; Why would anyone want to listen to something like that? For me, the answer is simple. We need to do a better job of pausing on all of our emotions, but particularly those that leave us feeling less than stellar. This collection of songs invites us to do just that. This isn’t an album about lingering. It is about pausing for just a moment.
This album is also an invitation to relate to someone facing the same challenge we all face; a longing for real love. Beginning in your teenage years and lasting until you fall deeply in love with someone, you search for another person with whom you can find joy, meaning, and life. This search is filled with a myriad of ups and downs. It hurts. It heals. It is meaningful and offers true appreciation for the real thing when we finally find it. Listening to someone sing about their challenge filled me with joy for what I have and reminded me to not take it for granted.
We aren’t built to be sad forever. We must find strength in the heartbreak. After listening to this album five or six times through, I realize the power of using pain to motivate yourself toward something great. I love the opportunity to connect with an artist on an honest level, but I also realize Angel Olsen is using the record to propel us toward something spectacular. Sometimes, we have to go through hell to realize how great things can be. I have this album to thank for that.
Be good to each other,
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