Ólöf Arnalds

Thursday

SXSW Records

Ólöf Arnalds

Við og Við (12 Tónar)

Familiarity with the Icelandic language would probably add a layer of understanding and appreciation for Ólöf Arnalds' ethereal music. Then again, as she has said, "If you mean what you sing, then it doesn't matter what language you sing in." Which explains why it's impossible not to fall in love with the 27-year-old's Fabergé-egg voice and intricate fretwork on guitar, violin, charango (a South American lute), and other stringed instruments on her debut album, the title of which translates roughly to "Now and Then." The title track fuses the quiet intensity of Nick Drake's most intimate songs with the girlish joy of a trilled "la la la." Harp and subdued trumpet on "Orfeus og Evridís" lend the song a lullaby sense; Arnalds could be singing about Grand Theft Auto, but the song's damn soothing. The album's haunting closing track, "Ævagömul Orkuþula" ("Ancient Energy Chant"), was written by Arnalds' late father and is a moving, peaceful outro. (Thu., 10pm, Victorian Room at the Driskill.)

****

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