All 4 U
A hand drum on the title track aside, Linnea Olsson’s debut album, Ah!, features nothing but her voice, her cello, her handclaps, and her whistle. Yet this isn't a primal and austere album, though it has its quiet and sublime moments; it's an unpredictable mix of pop, classical, and accomplished songwriting. “It’s OK” saws away as a mournful instrumental, with one cello track looped for percussion, as the other cello tracks build a cathedral of sound redolent of Nico’s The Marble Index without the avant-garde harshness. Comparisons to Joanna Newsom, Andrew Bird, and Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards are helpful, but clearly are only starting points. This Swedish cellist (the daughter of musicians) crafts her own melodic language with the upbeat tilt of “Giddy Up!” and, especially, the pop-like dazzle of “All 4U,” where the voices and cello are multitracked to the point of excitement, despite stubbornly hanging in its own prescribed zone. Olsson’s talents are impeccable.