Over the Hill
On Powdered Ground
Those who fell in love with Agnes Obel’s wistful voice and the somber songs that graced her 2010 Riverside EP are sure to succumb to the charms of her debut album Philharmonics. Born in Copenhagen (but residing in Berlin), Obel sings beautifully melancholic ballads with breathy and bewitching inflections. “Falling, Catching” is a minute-and-a-half instrumental piano piece that perfectly introduces the stark beauty of “Riverside” before “Brother Sparrow” adds on lightly strummed acoustic guitars and a second vocal track making her singing sound more dusky and mysterious. She turns John Cale’s “Close Watch” into a spectral lullaby akin to Marissa Nadler’s best moments. Standout song “Just So” was featured in a German Deutsche Telekom commercial and in the soundtrack to Thomas Vinterberg’s film Submarino. It plays like the album’s centerpiece with a spare architecture of piano, gently plucked strings, and feathery vocal harmonies allowing plenty of room for a big beautiful melody to blossom and wilt before your very ears with a fantastical beauty — like waking up in a fresh snow bank to the sound of sirens singing "Edelweiss".