Musical intimacy that will make you surrender your senses

A unique voice from Iceland awaits audiences at Ideal Bar on March 25

Icelandic singer-songwriter Olof Arnalds will bring her unique brand of musical intimacy to the Ideal Bar at Vega on March 25, and those attending can expect a mesmerisingly intimate show.

Arnalds was trained in violin and the viola and was a touring member of the electronic band múm from 2003 to 2008. Her debut album Við og Við was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, but few sales. In 2010 Arnalds released Innundir Skinni, which contained some songs in English, two of which, 'Crazy Car' and 'Surrender', received significant radio play and introduced Arnalds to a new and enthusiastic audience.

Perhaps it was the success of those two songs that persuaded Arnalds to record her latest album, Sudden Elevation, entirely in English. While it does make the songs more accessible to non-Icelandic speakers, they lose none of their unique individuality.

Most of the songs are deceptively simple, with just Arnald’s voice backed by a charango or guitar, but what a voice it is. It swoops and soars and has a brightness and clarity that demands close listening. Compatriot Björk, who sang on 'Surrender', has described Arnald’s voice as being “somewhere between a child and an old woman”, and it can change dramatically during a song. As a multi-instrumentalist, Arnalds is often asked what her favourite instrument is, to which she always replies it is her voice.

Lyrically, the songs are mainly concerned with personal relationships, but they are not particularly specific and are sufficiently ambiguous for the listener to be able find their own relevance. For example, 'Bright and Still' was written about Arnald’s relationship with her son, but could equally be about a platonic friendship or a deep romance: “who understands, how we hold hands, how we are we, we are best friends”. Arnalds says that she wants her music to feel like a conversation with a friend, and it does because she projects her personality so thoroughly through her songs, and it is such a likeable personality.

That personality is what Arnalds’ live performances are all about. She engages instantly with her audience and is at times a troubadour, at others a jester. There is no moodiness, she sings with a massive smile on her faces, and audiences can’t help being infected with her enthusiasm for her material. She also plays some covers; Neil Diamond’s 'Solitary Man' and Bob Dylan’s 'It Ain’t Me Babe' have recently featured, but she makes them sound like her own songs. You do feel she could sing any song and make it her own, such is the uniqueness of her sound. To see Arnalds perform is to become part of her world: a world of beauty, humour and love. Visit that world at Ideal Bar – you will be very glad you did.

Olof Arnalds

Ideal Bar, Vega, Enghavevej 40, Cph V

March 25, 21:00, 102kr