Agnes Obel – Citizen Of Glass – Album Review by Morgan Q
Agnes Obel plays Vicar Street, Dublin, on Thursday 1st December 2016.
Danish Singer Agnes Obel returns with her third studio album ‘Citizen of Glass’. This is the follow up to the 2013 album Aventine which was one of the highlights of that year. This album opens with ‘Stretch your Eyes’, which is a good example of those to follow. It’s a spacious and subtle song that uses piano and vocals to slowly build before the introduction of a string section to warm the coldest heart. The vocal style is delicate and the lyrics hints and at images and ideas.
“A grip that will hold
So tight and close
Around my throat with
The weight of all our lives” – Stretch Your Eyes
‘Familiar’ has the feel of a single, as the string section swings and scurries in the background of the piano and layered vocals. ‘Red Virgin Soil’ is an instrumental deeper rooted in percussion, but allows cello and piano into the proceedings. There is a metronomic style to it, a precision and structure that is almost electronic. ‘It’s Happening Again’ is a traditional piano track that muses and lilts.
‘Golden Green’ features vibraphone, piano and percussion, along with her vocals. As Agnes said herself ‘Golden Green’ is about ‘how the mind can develop stories and change reality whilst under the influence of envy. In a sense it is a negative longing with a creative potential for good and/or bad – novels are written in the mind from this perspective. The song is inspired by the book ‘Envy’ from 1927 by the novelist Yuri Olesha.’
“Who are you to take over my mind
With your eyes on me
All for you I am climbing the sky
Of golden green” – Gold Green
Final track Mary starts with a sweeping piano line and quickly introduces more layered vocals, that drift away as quickly as they emerge. Agnes has created a delicate and ephemeral album, to touch it is to make it disappear. The composition of piano with cello and other strings makes it quite unusual in structure, and her own vocal style is just as gentle.
1. Stretch Your Eyes 05:11
2. Familiar 03:54
3. Red Virgin Soil 02:44
4. It’s Happening Again 04:20
5. Stone 03:57
6. Trojan Horses 05:31
7. Citizen Of Glass 02:49
8. Golden Green 04:00
9. Grasshopper 02:38
10. Mary 05:48