WVAU’s #10 Song of 2016: "Heart Shaped Face" by Angel Olsen

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WVAU’s #10 Song of 2016: "Heart Shaped Face" by Angel Olsen

Kathleen Lovito

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I‰’m sitting on the edge of my bed, bare feet feeling into the worn-down grain of the cold wooden floor. I try to count the grooves like I always do. Like I always do when I‰’m sitting here and you‰’re way over there. Down the stairs, across town, states away… but I‰’m thinking of you, anyway. I‰’m thinking of the way you were then versus the way you are now. Same face, same hair, same fresh-pressed collar peeking out of the same crew neck sweater, but you‰’re not the same. You never stay the same.

Across my bedroom, a slow kick drum starts up on the stereo, followed shortly by a melancholy guitar twang. I push the soles of my feet down deeper into the grooves of the wood, and I let Angel Olsen take it away.

———————-

“Heart Shaped Face,‰” the sixth track off of Angel Olsen 2016 release MY WOMAN is a flashback montage for all of the meditative heartbroken. It‰’s the anthem for the ones who, looking back, should have known better. The ones who gave it their all and never received anything in return. The ones who never caught that sparkle in their lover‰’s eye. Those who, in fact, always found their lover looking away. In this steady, pensive track, Olsen traces back through a past relationship with the brutal yet poetic honesty we all wish we had when we turn from the counter at our local coffee shop to unexpectedly find the one who treated us wrong standing right behind us.

“I‰’ve seen you changing,‰” Olsen sings as we stare into their eyes. “Was it me that you were thinking of? All the time that you thought of me,‰” she asks just as we would before taking a sip of our loose leaf green tea blend. Because, as the song starts, our conversation begins.

We now know, just as Olsen does, how they always thought of us. We were never ourselves to them, we were a figurehead for some selfish need- the care of a mother, the feeling of shelter, or the placeholder for some other beauty with, of course, a heart-shaped face. And, like Olsen, we‰’re ready to confront that truth. We‰’re ready to call them out on how they used us to replay and “dig up‰” feelings from a past relationship or, even worse, to “erase‰” them. We were a tool to them and now‰’s our time to embody Olsen’s quiet strength- to learn how to turn our heads, to learn how to walk away. Sure, we‰’re not so lofty that we won’t admit we wish it didn‰’t have to be this way. To wish that we didn‰’t have to “throw it all away.” But we‰’ve been here before, and we can‰’t be here anymore. Or, at least, that’s what we would say as we walk away with the effortlessly suave rhythm of Olsen‰’s snare drum.

Except that we don‰’t.

We croak. We fumble. We splash that piping hot herbal blend onto our trembling hand, and we dash away, sucking at the barely first-degree burn we‰’ll nurse tonight while sitting on the edge of our bed, holding onto the same pessimism toward love Olsen ends “Heart Shaped Face‰” with:

Heartache ends

Heartache ends

Heartache ends

And begins again

And begins again

And begins again

Heartache ends

Heartache ends

Heartache ends

And begins

And begins

Begins