Thanks to sustaining crisp production throughout her latest record, Philharmonics, Agnes Obel sounds like a faerie whispering sweet nothings — and occasional sour musings — into your ear. Philharmonics is pleasant enough, but more than that, it’s patient — trumping along in a way that savors its own angelic purity, without all the trappings of naiveté. Here is a soundtrack for waltzing through a field of wild flowers, while somehow managing not to trample upon any of them.

Listen to “Brother Sparrow” – DOWNLOAD MP3

The appreciation or non-appreciation of Obel’s music can be found in the listener’s willingness or unwillingness to savor the small things. In passing, each track may take on the same qualities, and the fast-paced listener-dancer may foolishly overlook the brightly-colored clusters of flowering notes, writing them off as mere clones of one another. After all, what could an album that is almost exclusively centered around vocals and singular piano keys really offer? A bit, it seems, if the mood is right, and ripe. Each singular piano key or variation on Obel’s voice takes on its own unique coloration and sheen on Philharmonics , contributing to a rich, pleasurable creation that sometimes inhabits the world of Elliot Smith and sometimes that of the Virgin Suicides soundtrack.

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