Agnes Obel is quite talent: she’s got classical piano chops, a powerful voice, and a skill for folk-inflected songwriting. Of course, the important thing is that she brings it all together into a satisfying whole. Citizen Of Glass uses lots of strings and harpsichord, and occasionally performs the old Fever Ray trick of splitting and shifting Obel’s vocals so that she sounds both male and female. Out on Play It Again Sam.
Vinyl LP £18.38 PIASR905LP
180g vinyl gatefold LP on Play It Again Sam.
- Includes download code
CD £6.99 PIASR905CDX
Digipak CD on Play It Again Sam.
It’s time to get (neo)classical with the songs of Danish-born Agnes Obel, who is now based in Berlin, ‘cos Berlin. When it comes to telling you a story with her voice, she likes to dream bigger - her head must be filled with a dozen string quartets and a gaggle of harpsichords when sat at the piano. Which she is classically trained in.
She channels that classical training not into Rachmaninov-style virtuosic ivory tinkles, no sir. It’s the intricacy of the arrangements of these things, always with gliding dramatic strings, pianos and harpsichords offering simple cyclic phrases underneath, and tightly plucked string layers that are like candy to the ears. Each song is like a concerto in itself.
It’s hard to know whether her voice or the orchestral elements are really taking centre stage here. Obel soars majestically over the top of the stately strings and super-clean pizzicato from a cloud of reverb, occasionally taking time to mumble quietly from behind your ear. I’m gonna say an acoustic Bat For Lashes for comparison, or maybe Laura Marling? I don’t know songs, don’t ask me for a comparison again. Basically, it’s good, dramatic neo-classical popish songs. Probably.
Also, the harmonies in 'Trojan Horses'. Wow.
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