Agnes Obel - Philharmonics
Understated almost to its own detriment, Agnes Obel' debut album Philharmonics (originally released last year, but re-released with an additional CD of live recordings) isn't the type of album you can expect to 'get' straightaway but persevere and you'll be rewarded for the effort. In contrast to the stark and, quite frankly, scary cover art, the album envelops you like a warm summer's day thanks to Obel's gentle tinkling of the ivories and velvet vocals meaning that when everything clicks, like on 'Just So' and 'Avenue' to name but a few, it is truly gorgeous to behold. This is more than matched by her songwriting which, in keeping with the album's overall feel, is subtle but strongly emotive - "Over the hill I will be waiting for you / I won't pretend that you don't mean nothing to me". Obel smartly adds three instrumentals into the mix - the strongest of which is 'Wallflower' with its lush blend of piano and cello - which work in breaking up the album as there otherwise isn't much variation to proceedings. This could well prove to be a stumbling block to a casual fan as there is a tendency for Philharmonics to drift softly by with the deft changes in tone only becoming apparent for the most attentive listener, on first spin at least. Still with its 40-minute running time, it's not that much to ask to give it a second try and we almost guarantee that you won't regret it.