And here we thought Godzilla Vs. Kong would be the summer’s most epic clash of the titans. Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten have separately towered over the indie scene for the last decade, and now they’ve joined forces for the first time on the new song “Like I Used To”.
While Olsen is a little more influenced by folk and pop, and Van Etten tends more towards full-throated rock, the two songwriters have plenty in common. To start, they’ve both artfully explored the grey areas between bangs and a mullet, and they’ve both worked with producer John Congleton. Via Stereogum, Congleton returns for “Like I Used To”, helping to layer the guitars and piano to create waves of sound, and blending Van Etten’s earthy alto with the ethereal soprano of Olsen.
In a pair of statements, the songwriters spoke about how their mutual admiration turned into collaboration. Van Etten said, “Even though we weren’t super close, I always felt supported by Angel and considered her a peer in this weird world of touring. We highway high-fived many times along the way… I finally got the courage in June of 2020 to reach out to see if she would want to sing together. I got greedy and quickly sent her a track I had been working on.”
Olsen added, “I’ve met with Sharon here and there throughout the years and have always felt too shy to ask her what she’s been up to or working on. The song reminded me immediately of getting back to where I started, before music was expected of me, or much was expected of me, a time that remains pure and real in my heart.”
The track is accompanied by a music video directed by Kimberly Stuckwisch. It shows the two artists in stylish split screen, sometimes staring into each others eyes from different houses, and sometimes with their heads aligned at perpendicular angles, so that they resemble one woman drawn by Picasso. It ends in a lonely desert, as the camera swings around both only to reveal that they are standing a few feet apart. Check out “Like I Used To” below.
Last month, Van Etten celebrated the ten-year anniversary of her debut album Epic with an expanded reissue featuring covers by Fiona Apple, IDLES, Shamir, and more. She followed it up with the live album epic Ten: Live from Zebulon. Next month she’ll contribute to the Richard Youngs covers album This Is a Mindfulness Drill. As for Olsen, earlier this month she released her first-ever box set Song of the Lark and Other Far Memories, which included “Alive and Dying (Waving, Smiling)”, a new reinterpretation of an old favorite.