It’s a bare-bones affair, as expected, featuring a solo Olsen and her electric guitar, but one that is elevated significantly thanks to the setting — a stunning church studio in the singer’s hometown of Asheville, North Carolina — and a roaming camera that instinctively knows when to drift away and when to pull in close.
Forgoing a static camera for one that interacts with its subject may offer more intimacy and engagement but it’s still Olsen’s breathtaking, singular singing voice that remains the prime drawcard.
Cosmic Streams 1 focuses solely on early songs from 2011 debut EP Strange Cacti and 2012 debut album Half Way Home, when Olsen’s delicate yet defiant voice was often prone to breaking into a spine-tingling Patsy-Cline-gone-berserk howl.
Olsen’s 2020 take on the material is a little lower in register and more subdued, the singer candidly admitting “my voice has changed a lot over the years and I can’t sing as high as I used to”. If that’s true, then the ageing process should be applauded as the shift adds even greater depth and resonance to songs such as Lonely Universe, a heartbreaking retelling of childhood trauma.
For standout song The Waiting, she simply explains that it was inspired by waiting for her boyfriend to call and ask her out. It only furthers the impression of Olsen’s genius as a songwriter capable of wringing high drama from mundane occurrences.
It’s a near-flawless performance where songs previously unplayed live are delivered perfectly, the set list delivers a satisfying emotional ebb and flow, and the audio and vision is presented lag-free and in the highest quality.
Given Olsen’s penchant for bar-raising, it all bodes extremely well for the coming Cosmic Streams 2, and less well for other artists, who are set to disappoint if they can’t attain a similar high standard of online performance.