"Ethereal" is an overused adjective for female singer/songwriters. But for Danish chamber folk artist Agnes Obel, it absolutely applies. The songs on her sophomore effort, without veering into Enya territory, could be lifted from a fantasy film. Not an overwrought soundtrack like the Hobbit or Game Of Thrones, but a modern fairy tale like 2009's Ondine, say, had Ondine not turned out to be a Romanian drug mule instead of a selkie.
Obel has as delicate a touch on the piano as she has in her sparingly used, subtly breathy vocals. Tickled instrumental tunes like Chord Left and Fivefold are among the most memorable. (Perhaps it's because, as she asserts on the album's standout song, Words Are Dead.)
Lyrics, when employed, are simple and to the point, thoughtful but sparse enough to let the classical musicianship shine. And there's an Ontario connection to this Scandinavian treat: Mika Posen of indie pop bands Forest City Lovers and Timber Timbre plays violin and viola.
Top track: Words Are Dead
Agnes Obel plays the Great Hall February 21.