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No Cover: Ólöf Arnalds

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Before You Press Play

Hometown: Reykjavík, Iceland

The Facts: Born into a music family in 1980, Ólöf Arnalds was a student of violin from the age of eight. Completing studies in classical singing, music composition, and as a touring member of Múm, her musical family over the past three years have been the who's who of both the Icelandic and American music scenes.

Arnalds' second album, Innundir Skinni (translation: Under the Skin), includes backing vocals by Bjork, a cover of Arthur Russell's "Close My Eyes", and was produced by Kjartan Sveinsson of Sigur Ros. She stopped by Rockwood Music Hall on July 19 for a "live rehearsal" before her three nights of upcoming shows with rock icon Jonathan Richman in San Francisco.

The Sound: In this recording, Arnalds is joined on stage by frequent collaborator and Laurie Anderson musical director, Skuli Sverrisson on electric bass. Covering most of her forthcoming album, Ólöf delivers a potent vocal range -- "somewhere between a child and an old woman” according to Björk -- and wields an intamacy of familial storytelling. She opens the set with the title track inspired during her first pregnacy and in the song "Crazy Car", armed with a charango fashioned from an armadillo, Arnalds lilts a warning to save a friend from living the crazy life in New York City, and to come back home.

Latest Release: Innundir Skinni (Sept. 2010), One Little Indian

He Said, She Said: "Arnalds conveys her intimate musings on friendship and family with such tenderness that the lyrical meaning and the brittle beauty of her delivery function seamlessly. To appreciate one is to intuitively sense the other." -- Jason Killingsworth, Paste

"Very much sitting within the freak folk bracket, Arnalds recalls the work of Vashti Bunyan or Joanna Newsom. This is most patent in her vocals which through their delivery, as well as due to being in her native tongue, provide a kind of otherworldliness. The track is a slow burning acoustic number which exudes an earthy naturalism which forms an enigmatic juxtaposition with the enchanting vocal style." (on Innundir Skinni) -- Chris Tapley, God Is In The TV

Set List:

1. Innundir skinni
2. Skjaldborg
3. Crazy Car
4. Surrender
5. Allt í guddi
6. Instants (wriitten by Skuli Sverrisson)
7. Madrid
8. Vinkonur


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