Last month, Angel Olsen announced a new box set called Song of the Lark and Other Far Memories that contains her 2019 album All Mirrors, her 2020 record Whole New Mess, and a bonus LP called Far Memory. It’s out in full next month, but today she’s giving fans another taste with a song called “Alive and Dying (Waving, Smiling)”.
The story behind this box set is that All Mirrors and Whole New Mess were initially intended to be a double-album. That never came to fruition, so this is Olsen’s way of linking to the two together along with a handful of bonus tracks (Far Memory) that didn’t end up making the cut. Last month, she shared one of those songs, “It’s Every Season (Whole New Mess)”, that was a different version of “Whole New Mess”, and “Alive and Dying (Waving, Smiling)” is another reinterpretation track.
In its original form, “Waving, Smiling” appeared on the stripped-back Whole New Mess, but this version features an 11-piece string arrangement that makes it feel a lot more like an All Mirrors track. It’s an incredibly beautiful arrangement and Olsen’s voice is in peak form. Check it out below via a gorgeous visualizer that shows Olsen singing the tune at the piano.
“This song is all about chapters closing, and learning to let go of things I can’t understand,” she said in a statement. “It’s very me — I will always nosedive into love, and suffering can definitely come with that. When I hear this version the strings really bring the song to its necessary bittersweet boiling point.”