On her forthcoming solo album Whole New Mess, Angel Olsen lays out a sonic counterpoint to her gorgeously operatic All Mirrors. While that incredible 2019 effort was lush with orchestration, this companion effort — recorded around the same time — finds Olsen laying bare her emotions over nothing but acoustic guitar. We heard it first on the title track, and now we get another sampling in new single “Waving, Smiling”.
A slow waltz, “Waving, Smiling” is Olsen at her most intimate. It’s her wrapped in a tender dance with her own loneliness, knowing that when the song is over she must let it go. Yet despite the sorrowful notes, it is not entirely dejected, as she sings, “I’m waving, smiling/ At love forever alive and dying/ The sun is shining.”
Whole New Mess captures Olsen in the immediate aftermath of a breakup, and as she puts it, “‘Waving, Smiling’ in my head is the last scene, a slow motion realization of love not lost but at peace somewhere within myself. It’s the bittersweet end of a chapter of my life — it is the final acceptance that despite coming to an end all of that time was not lost or wasted.”
In addition to the track, Olsen has also shared a live performance of “Waving, Smiling”. The clip was shot at Asheville’s Masonic Temple by Ashley Connor, and you can watch it beneath the stream ahead.