I cannot claim any long-standing relationship with Ms. Obel’s music. One evening in late November I switched 6 Music and caught the back-end of a live session. It was the voices I heard that sparked my interest initially. I think I only heard about 90 seconds but after a bit of ‘Ask Jeeves’ (Q:does that still exist?… A:I don’t know, Google it?) I was introduced to Ms. Obel’s music. Citizen of Glass was not out but there were a few tracks on Spotify and I loved each and everyone.
As referenced previously in my wittering, I don’t get as much time to listen to music as I used to / would like. I do listen to music in the evenings but my evenings are not as long as they used to be. Following the daily bedtime battle and the realisation that child-2 will probably be awake for 3 hours in roughly 2.5 hrs we like to keep the evenings calm. I like to read but am useless at reading when listening to some music. I struggle with a lot of music with lyrics when reading. Over the course of a few years this has significantly changed my listening habits. My evening music has become calmer and more instrumental. I listen to a lot of (cringe) ‘Modern Classical’ ‘Neo-Classical’ (puke) and other terms for music with strings that nobody knows what to call. Musicians (composers?) such as Olafur Arnalds, Max Richter, Johann Johannsson and Julian Barwick have become the main-stay of what I actually listen to. However, I’ve not shared any of this on the blog which is stupid really as it is what I listen to and this blog is supposed to be about sharing new music and what we’re currently listening to.
Which brings me to Citizen of Glass by Agnes Obel. Ms. Obel is a Danish singer / songwriter. A bit of time on ‘Ask Jeeves’ suggests numerous genres for her music – classical, folk, pop, experimental among others. The main point for me is that her music is calming and beautiful. There are no beats. There will be no-cool-down-with-the-kids points available for referencing this album, unless of course the kids are listening to music like this which could well be happening given my proximity to ‘cool’.
The album is cinematic and sweeping. It has a rhythm to its sequence and provides a progression through the tracks but also a gentle return to its starting point. By this I mean that listening on repeat is a rewarding experience. There are 10 tracks in all, 8 vocal and 2 instrumentals. The instrumentals (for me) do not feel like filler and have stand out qualities that set them apart as rewarding entities in their own right. The instrumentation is 100% acoustic / orchestral – lost of piano (though this is her album where she consciously steps away from reliance on the piano), strings, harpsichord, harp, spintet, celsta (…. I’m not selling this am I?) and of course her voice. I’ve not checked all the vocal credits but she provides her own backing vocals and harmonies. She even duets with herself on ‘Familiar’ where she provides a ‘male’ counterpoint to her beautiful ‘female’ vocal.
As with many albums the greatest rewards come on repeat listens when you have the ability to concentrate on the music rather than as background music. I hope that you guys get as much from this as I have. I appreciate that this may not be ‘your usual thing’ but hey, it may well be and you’ve just not been blogging about it like me.