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Agnes Obel - Aventine (Review)

Agnes Obel, Aventine

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HAVING scored such a massive hit with her debut album Philharmonics in 2010, which went five times Platinum in her native Denmark, Agnes Obel now returns with her keenly-anticipated sophomore effort Aventine and continues to impress.

This provides yet another charming and often beautiful showcase of the classically trained pianist/singer’s skills as both an orator and musician.

If anything, it’s the instrumentals here that leave the most striking impression, from the delicate beauty of the piano solo opener Chord Left to the clever combinations of piano and strings that occur throughout.

That said, Obel’s vocals also have a quality that is, by turns, seductive, soothing and occasionally ethereal.

Hence, on a track like Fuel To Fire, her delicate vocals provide a wonderfully wintery accompaniment to the background pianos, conjuring images of snow-capped landscapes in the dead of night… or even animated landscapes for The Snowman and his young charge to fly over.

There’s a hypnotic beauty, too, to moments like Dorian, which slow-build like a more classical version of Bat For Lashes or Kate Bush, or title track Aventine, which is likely to draw similarly favourable comparisons to the work of Enya and which has some fantastic string and oboe arrangements to augment the piano sound.

A little later there’s a fragile beauty to Run Cried The Crawling that is cinematic… again, you can imagine those wintery landscapes, with the sometimes melancholy undertow of the chords suggesting something bittersweet or even tragic about to happen.

While Tokka provides one of those more ‘pop’ moments… a song that still slow-builds from another beautiful violin arrangement into something quite wonderful during its passionate chorus.

In truth, though, Obel’s album barely puts a foot wrong throughout… there’s something to admire in almost every song, whether in the instruments themselves or in the journeys that Obel’s lyrics take you on.

If Philharmonics introduced Obel as a striking new talent, then Aventine underlines her status as a major new player with obvious staying power. You should indulge.

Download picks: Chord Left, Fuel To Fire, Dorian, Aventine, Run Cried The Crawling, Tokka, The Curse

Track listing:

  1. Chord Left
  2. Fuel to Fire
  3. Dorian
  4. Aventine
  5. Run Cried The Crawling
  6. Tokka
  7. The Curse
  8. Pass Them By
  9. Words Are Dead
  10. Fivefold
  11. Smoke & Mirrors