IF folk-artist Agnes Obel – Copenhagen’s consistently brilliant daughter – and her new release ‘Citizen Of Glass’ showed a continuation of the divergent sound-scapes that has turned the 36-year-old into Denmark’s most important modern star, then new single ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ is the pre-climax to whatever finale she wants to complete.
Without doubt, ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ is the emotive highlight of Obel’s third album. Before the curtain has even had a chance to fall onto the stage floor, the sweeping, African-inspired strings ache, stretch and inevitably rise through a sting of gently swelling patterns. Obel commands them up as her voice, shot with the shy power that is unequivocally her trademark, dances loosely above them. The pre-chorus offers the sort of pleasing melody that would instantly make this a radio favourite, back home and abroad, and by the time the chorus comes ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ already feels like one of her most pop-savvy creations.
With a track like this, it’s difficult to understand whether Obel is doing her best John Barry or Damien Rice impression, or whether in fact those two are just doing their best impressions of her. She is a unique talent that will one day be given the genius status it deserves.
And perhaps it’s coming for her. The signs suggest so. ‘Citizen Of Glass’ – her highest charting album in the UK to date as it broke into the Top 30 – cemented her legacy in Denmark and most likely made the ears pluck up of the odd radio plugger over here. Rightly so.
With a string of European shows scheduled for the year, Obel heads to London’s Roundhouse on June 4.
Words by Clive Hammond