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The Wild Hearts Tour brings out the heart in Olsen, Van Etten, Baker

Leader Bank Pavilion, Boston, August 18, 2022

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

The Wild Hearts Tour presents a rarity of catching three different female artists – Angel Olsen, Sharron Van Etten and Julien Baker – on the same stage. And while they don't occupy the same musical space, they all acquitted themselves.

On this night, Olsen was squarely in the country category – except for a few songs - as her new disc, "Big Time," delves heavily into country's more traditional sounds. Van Etten leaned into pop sounds, while Baker, who sometimes could be a folk singer in the real meaning of the appellation, often rocked out.

Olsen mines country music on her latest album, "Big Time," and that was the vibe she stuck with for most of her headlining stint. Rightfully, she believes in the album with the first four songs – "Dream Thing," "Big Time," "Ghost On" and "Right Now" – all coming from "Big Time." Olsen 's voice is well matched with country. Her phrasing finds her taking her time with the songs, never rushing it.

Recalling Margo Price in her delivery, Olsen put it out there vocally, aided and abetted by a supple backing band with xylophone even prominently played on "All the Good Times."

Olsen left a bit to be desired when it came to her stage patter. She came off sassy at times only to be smug at other times in talking about ex-boyfriends wanting to go to a baseball game just after she finished a tour. She showed a sense of humor, but perhaps it wasn't everyone's taste. It also didn't help that twice, she needed a decent amount of time to tune up her guitar.

Olsen ended in good fashion with Van Etten returning for a song they penned together, "Like I Used To" and taking turns on Nilsson's "Without You." Despite Olsen making like they had never done it together before, based on how well they sung it, Olsen presumably was joking.

Van Etten looking suave in a black pantsuit was a confident, comfortable performer as well with her set focused on more commercial sounds than her compadres bookending the show. Van Etten, too, has a lovely voice, powerful, but not too much, and effective.

Van Etten's material was well put together and well presented with a warm stage presence to boot. She focused on her latest, "We've Been Going About This All Wrong" with half of the dozen songs coming from the disc released in May. Seemingly in song after song, Van Etten brought the music to a climax. This was a very solid night for Van Etten.

Baker benefitted mightily from having a band and the sonic onslaught that brought. Baker certainly was earnest in delivering her songs, going into overdrive more as her set powered on. She may have started off with a softer vibe and a voice that worked well that material, but that pretty much evaporated by the end of her nearly 50-minute set.

Baker need not plead guilty to being the most dynamic performer. She didn't utter a word until well into the set – and then it was because there was a mistake in starting a song. The result was she had to rely on her material, and that didn't disappoint.

On paper, The Wild Hearts Tour stacked up in advance as one to check out. While not a perfect night out, Olsen, Van Etten and Baker all put a lot of heart into their varied musical styles.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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