Agnes Obel - Citizen of Glass
This may be relatively short review for Agnes Obel as our normal rules for more established artists apply - 'Citizen of Glass' is featured in so many different publications and websites far more eminent than ourselves, and why read our unprofessional ramblings when you can read the experts in places such as The Guardian. Anyway this is the 3rd album from the Berlin based Danish artist, her boldest release to date and I've enjoyed getting to know this more than any of her previous albums too.
Agnes Obel has also found an interesting theme for the album, that of the 'gläserner bürger' - the concept of the glass citizen and how much privacy an individual has, based on how much we are all to an extent 'made of glass'. And whilst when I read about this concept pre-album release I probably 'sighed' slightly, actually it's a theme that works really well, mainly because it does seem to suit Agnes Obel's style, an undercurrent of tension sits beneath the album, and there is a lyrical and musical continuity to the release too.
'Stretch Your Eyes' opens the album with a section of pizzicato cellos, and in general her frequent use of cellos gives her music real character, a versatile instrument which can convey darkness as well as open up with beautiful shards of light. But a key feature of the album is also her use of instruments as widespread as a harpsichord and a trautonium, which adds to the texture of the album. 'Familiar' remains a real success, and I love the transposed voice duet in the chorus, and which I don't find unnerving in the slightest. I like too 'Red Virgin Soil', again the pizzicato cello section opens before we're treated to a selection of instrumental solos. 'Trojan Horses' opens with a similar theme to earlier tracks, this time played by the piano, and it has a real intensity to it, with melancholy vocals and complex musical instrumentation. The album concludes with the stunning 'Mary' and the most beautiful piano contribution.
This is an album which is popular with all those involved with Nordic Music Review and hopefully will be welcomed by pretty much everyone - the exception maybe being disaffected session violinists who sat through hours of recording watching the cellists get all the spotlight. 'Citizen of Glass' is intense, sometimes dark and also very beautiful too. As expected the vocals are stunning but it is the wider musical arrangements that give the album such depth and character. Another successful release from Agnes Obel, and we now look forward to her UK tour which begins in just under 2 weeks.
Her UK tour starts at the Anson Rooms in Bristol on Sunday 27th November, although that does look sold out. Manchester's lovely Albert Hall had tickets left last time we checked, and that's on Wednesday 30th Nov.