Sometimes less is more - and in the case of Swedish singer/songwriter Sumie's sparse, delicate debut album, that can be both an asset and a limitation. While her sister Yukimi uses a sunnier palette as frontwoman for electro-pop quartet Little Dragon, Sandra Sumie Nagano paints minimalist, silvery soundscapes with little more than her soft vocals and strummed acoustic guitar.
Recorded at German composer/pianist Nils Frahm's studio with producer Dustin O'Halloran (if you're familiar with his old band, Devics, you'll have a sense of the hushed vibe at play here), the 10 tracks rarely rise above a murmur. But what a pretty whisper it is, from the gentle fingerpicked melody of opener Spells You to the cathedral-echo effect of the doubled vocal on Hunting Sky.
At her best, Sumie evokes the poeticism of Joni paired with the headiness of Mazzy Star. But given the songs' lack of variation in tone and tempo, an EP might have offered a more focused introduction.
Top track: Hunting Sky