JPR Live Session: Agnes Obel
Agnes Obel, the staggeringly talented No.1 artist across Europe, and a great live success in the UK, returns with a bigger sound, a bigger canvas and, for the first time, a concept for her third album. Citizen Of Glass follows 2013’s gorgeously intimate, piano-and-voice-led masterpiece Aventine, and 2010’s stunningly detailed, delicate debut Philharmonics, which had huge commercial success in Obel’s home country of Denmark, as well as France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.This time around, Agnes Obel’s world is wider, her vision broadening to new horizons, her message more universal. During her last European tour, Obel read a piece of journalism about the term Gläserner Bürger, meaning the glass human or citizen in German, describing the level of privacy an individual has in a state or a country. It is also a term used in healthcare to describe how much is known about a patient’s body or biology or history. In other words, if a person is completely made of glass, Obel explains, we know everything about them. “And I thought that’s such a good term in so many other ways,” she continues. “I sort of feel like that about my work very much – that I am being expected to made of glass - but also in my private life too. Everyone’s expected so much to reveal of their autobiography now. It’s like a camera being in the room at all times. That makes us change so much as people."
Divulging things in that way has never come naturally to Obel anyway; she’s never been one for social media, or direct, intimate lyrics. Nevertheless, she’s started to accept that her music comes from her own experiences, rather from the abstract, she says. She’s also decided to work with that idea, and try to reveal something about herself, in the best way she knows how. Citizen Of Glass became an album about how we see ourselves, and how we see other people, and how love and emotions work in this peculiar new world.