“All day I stay by her side,” Mirel Wagner sings of her beloved in “No Death,” the undeniable buzz cut from this Ethiopian-Finnish singer-songwriter’s self-titled debut. “But death has a claim and a right to my bride.” In fact, death has already exercised that claim: A stark minor-key blues made only of voice and guitar, “No Death” turns out to be one of an exceedingly small handful of tunes about the joys of necrophilia. “Her body is cold/ Well, it’s gonna get colder,” Wagner acknowledges over carefully fingerpicked arpeggios, “But my love will ignite what was left to smolder.” (Think she was tempted to sing “what was left of her shoulder”?) Elsewhere on this haunting nine-track set Wagner dials down the lyrical shock-and-awe a bit; in the relatively jaunty “No Hands” she even pauses a bike ride long enough to admire “the sun filter[ing] through the trees.” But there’s never any of the sweetening you expect from folks working in this kind of post-Nick Drake mode: no pillowy string arrangements or harmony vocal parts designed to reassure you that somebody else is out there. Wagner keeps her music as lean — and as sharp — as a razor’s edge.
By Alex Macpherson on 11.18.14 in Features
The Finnish singer/songwriter takes Alex Macpherson into her dark world.
By Peter Blackstock on 08.12.14 in Reviews
After a stark self-titled 2012 debut that earned widespread attention beyond her home country of Finland, Mirel Wagner moves up to Sub Pop but keeps the approach resolutely spare on her second record. Everything revolves...
By Amber Cowan on 05.21.14 in Spotlights
Kate Tempest, Everybody Down The 27-year-old South Londoner’s debut is a modern-day fable of love and loss that’s every bit as thrilling and dramatic as The Streets’ A Grand Don’t Come For Free. Stuart Turnbull interview...
By Laura Leebove on 03.31.14 in Reviews
As Lucius, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig built a following through their mesmerizing live shows and a raw, four-song 2012 EP of tender, '60s girl-group harmonies; in the last year they've played Bonnaroo and Wilco's Solid...