Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Albums of the Year # 12 Agnes Obel

There needs to be at least one choice on this list that sounds like an imaginary soundtrack, given that we seem to be living through times specifically apt for them, and so here is the IOST for this particular countdown. Danish artist Agnes Obel's 2016's record Citizen of Glass is a tasteful object in every respect. Just made for dinner party listening, unobtrusive, but sleek and elegant. Or perhaps the soundtrack to one of those acclaimed, dark Scandinavian murder mysteries they put on British television on Saturday nights. I don't really know what it's about. Obel has given plenty of interviews where she's outlined the thinking behind her lyrics and arrangements at great length. That doesn't really matter to me. I respond to music primarily instinctively and emotionally and the album triggers a positive reaction in every respect.I don't really need the programme notes because in this case the music speaks just fine for itself.

Obel's music is very much intended to invoke a mood. Her classical training helps greatly in this respect. Classical music has always been able to offer the silky sense of enclosure that pop music is only just beginning to fully cotton onto and artists, and particularly female ones are now beginning to produce records that really begin to replicate its glossy texture. Obel's album is just one of the best example of this to my ears in 2016. Along with one more album which I'll get to as we begin to count down the Top 10. In the meantime, Citizen of Glass will do; a warm, textured, silky, thing of imagination, technique and no little grace.

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