Street Sounds: Dane Agnes Obel abstains from pop
On her third album, Citizen of Glass, Danish singer/songwriter/pianist Agnes Obel creates an alternate reality through her mystical songs.
Her source of inspiration is elusive and gives one the sense of hearing something coming from an untapped source.
There is no pop song language on the album and it’s stronger for that.
Obel’s music doesn’t go in a verse-chorus-bridge pattern. It moves in arrangement guided by her voice, rather than by hooks or riffs. It’s textural and peaceful as if she submerges her ego into the sound (Grasshopper, Many).
Stylistically, Obel is an enigma. She’s connected to the Scandinavian art-pop of the early 2000s, yet she conjures images of 1920s’ Berlin and its noire nightclub ballads.
There’s also a distant presence that suggests the abstract images of 1960s’ French pop stars, Francoise Hardy and France Gall.
One thing’s for sure, she’s elusive and her music is dreamy.
Obel’s moody orchestration isn’t for the restless. It has a visionary quality not in some epic sense but in a poetic movement. Tracks like Familiar are otherworldly because Obel works from unconventional methods and presents them as compact songs.
It’s her strength and it gives her music distance. Her songs seem like mini suites with relatable arrangements and the source is enticingly out of reach (Stone, Trojan Horse).
It’s music that you would hear in your dreams.
– Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music releases for The Morning Star every Friday.