Agnes Obel – The Danish Lady of Berlin

There is a dark and powerful beauty embodied by Danish native Agnes Obel, capturing in her piano poetry the magic of the city of Berlin and so much more. She taps notes effortlessly on her piano, not to fill the silence but to work together with it to create something that reaches into the heart. The sounds transcend into the mysterious, creating a romantic and sincere soundtrack for these dying days of the year.

She moves in and out of the shadows, like some autumnal spectre, with a long train following her as she moves through the city streets, whispering stories. It’s spellbinding, so entwined with the current season as it is. She possesses two voices – her singing voice and her piano voice. The vocals are not missed when she pours herself solely into the piano, though when they enter the room they are like lullaby notes for adults. She sings in her non-native English, but these pieces of music go far beyond lyrics, filling the sky as each song does. If I walk the streets of Berlin and imagine music coming from the window of an apartment several floors above then Agnes Obel’s songs would symbolise the city well. Her fingers upon the piano keys do with sound what ballet dancers’ feet do to the eyes. It is a finger ballet, of sorts.

Agnes Obel

A woman, or man, once in a while strikes that perfect chord at what they do. If not yet there, Obel is close to sublime beauty in what she does. It’s hard to compare her art to anyone else’s, and that for me is possibly the best indicator of magic. There are others as talented as her, a few other female artists who spring to mind, though possibly they have passed their peaks, while Agnes would seems to be at hers at present. None of them sound like each other, and maybe that’s what sets them apart. In an age where to replicate and be over influenced by everything around is all too easy, standing up as an individual and being counted as a unique force is increasingly remarkable and impressive.

As for the accompanying instrumentation on Agnes’ records and live performances, they delicately enhance her piano and never overpower it. The strings and percussion are used masterfully, like it is known exactly how to maximise the potential of such instruments supporting the core of her songs.

As the weather gets cold and we grow deeper into autumn, the colours of the album keep us warm in these days. A magical force walks among us.

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Agnes Obel’s album Aventine is out now. Catch her majesty live as she tours the UK at the end of October, playing in London (21/10), Bristol (22/10) and Glasgow (24/10).