Sudden Elevation

[One Little Indian]

Ólöf Arnalds embraces subtlety in her mixes, even as she creates more complex works. On her third solo album and first entirely in English, the Icelandic singer-songwriter exercises tremendous restraint in her arrangements, and initial listens don’t reveal how much has been seamlessly integrated under the fingerpicked guitars. Arnalds’ classical training is apparent in the sparse string arrangements and intuitive piano riffs. Barring the flashy singing heard on closer “Perfect,” most of the backing vocals are buried in the mix and there for support, not dramatic effect. The overall tone of Sudden Elevation is more lighthearted than 2010’s Innundir Skinni, and themes of friendships, individuality and the importance of kindness project a sense of exuberance consistent with the delicate framing of each song. Arnalds has used deceptive simplicity to masterfully undersell herself, and her charm is as beguiling as this carefully crafted album. –Amanda Farah


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