This week I had the joy of discovering Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel
Her 2010 début album Philharmonics was a platinum-selling hit in her home nation of Denmark, gaining fans and winning awards, before going on to do well across most of mainland Europe, her second album Aventine followed up on that success, but unfortunately, this went pretty unnoticed here in the UK, until someone at the BBC decided to feature one of her songs in a recent advert and suddenly there is a growing number of people including myself, that are starting to pay attention to the soulful and folksy sounds of this singer-songwriter from Scandinavia.
After the surprise success of her début album which she wrote, arranged and produce, the sell-out European tour and the multiple awards at the DMA’s, Agnes was under a fair amount of pressure with the follow-up, something that she managed in 2013 with Aventine, an album that charts the whirlwind that she has been caught up in since Philharmonics caught the attention of the Danish music lovers, producing a succession of beautifully melodic songs that relies on atmospheric piano rhythms and understated lyrics that delicately blend together in a way that reminds me of an early Ane Brun or A Fine Frenzy, sustaining a mood of optimism and sadness, whilst staying simple and to the point, the kind of music that you can’t just play in the background while you work, instead you have to give it your entire attention and study the melodramatic yet ominous piano accompaniments and soft acoustic guitar sets that combine to produce some of the most hauntingly beautiful alt-folk songs I have heard for a long while.
My personal favourite song is Riverside off her first album, with its rich layers and stunning musical accompaniment, that I fell in love with upon first listen, it’s just the kind of thing to listen to on a cold springs eve or a peaceful summers morning, it’s filled with emotions and powerful lyrics that just sweep you away to a far of place, using imaginative and poignant lyrics such as ‘Where everybody goes to be alone, Where you wont see any rising sun, Down to the river we will run‘, which when combined with the classical meets folk sound that Agnes has cultivated over the last 4 years, forms the perfect representation of what you should expect from her first two albums and what it is exactly that has got the Danish, French, Germans and Dutch just so crazy about her sound.
17/04/14 – Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
18/04/14 – St George’s, Bristol
19/04/14 – The Barbican, London
19/07/14 – Lattitude Festival, Suffolk
If you like: Ane Brun, A Fine Frenzy, Bat for Lashes, Birdy