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From Ethiopia via Finland, Mirel Wagner returns this week with a second album of her bare-bones gothic folk intimacy. This time round she's got some impressive names behind her - firstly she's now on Sub Pop, but on top of that she's got sonic magician Vladislav Delay twiddling the knobs and Scots soundtrack-mensch Craig Armstrong pops up on a couple of tracks to add subtle strings and piano. You just know it's going to be the pinnacle of good taste, don't you?
You'd be right. The ominously-titled 'When The Cellar Children See The Light Of Day' is a gorgeous listen throughout, Wagner's voice a sensuous near-whisper over gently fingerpicked guitar, the songs possess a bleak weightiness that brings to mind the likes of PJ Harvey, Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen, but the delivery is silky and understated, avoiding the angsty peaks and troughs of the Harvey or Cave in favour of a low-key intimacy that really draws the listener into her world...somewhere between the emptiness of Cold Specks or Stina Nordenstam and the darkly measured smoothness of someone like Nina Nastasia or Mazzy Star. Really excellent stuff.
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- When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day by Mirel Wagner
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