Angel Olsen is an American singer-songwriter that has made waves in recent years with her hypnotic voice and songwriting quality. With her songs ranging from alternative country to art-pop, Olsen truly runs the gamut of stylistic variation, pushing the boundaries of mainstream musical creativity.
That’s why finding a deep cut David Bowie cover from Olsen isn’t just a curiosity worth checking out, it is a magnetic performance that begs you not to look away. Performing live at Brooklyn Steel in 2017, Angel Olsen selected David Bowie’s ‘Five Years’, which appeared on the now-iconic 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
Olsen’s rendition of the song is dreamy yet still rock-driven, just as Bowie intended with his own original take. The song is the first to appear on the album, opening the tracklist and setting the tone for the rest to come. And although the track wasn’t his most popular of all time, it’s clearly made a lasting impression.
With that, Olsen’s voice lends itself to the song exceptionally well. Not only does her low, soulful tone and playful swing breathe life into the material, but she also has the raw power to back up the tone shift that shakes up the song right in the middle.
This, as intended, is a performance meant to be consumed and devoured, live and in full. And even though we can’t catch it live right now (considering that this version was a cover at a 2017 show in Brooklyn), we can at least savour the footage that arose from the occasion.
Again, this isn’t a common song to cover, with most Bowie fans going for the more obvious choices, but Olsen is a devoted listener. She’s even been open about how much he inspired her own songwriting. She spoke of how ‘Changes’ inspired her song ‘Shut Up and Kiss Me’, in fact: “He had just passed away,” Olsen said of the timing during her process in writing the song. “For me, recording is just a magical thing that encapsulates a time”.
It’s clear how much Olsen loves Bowie, and how much she wants to pay tribute to him, and if there’s one thing that’s for certain, it’s that she does a great job honouring his legacy. See the footage, below.