It falls more into the trad-folk genre and there is very little experimentation here but it all seems effortlessly put together, which instils it with a certain warmth that makes listening to the record a pleasure. It’s highly accomplished and her tender vocal fits the softly picked guitars, brushed drums and strings perfectly.
Lyrically, Arnalds has opted to write exclusively in English for the first time, which should open her up to a wider audience. It’s a wise decision and the poetic, bittersweet lyrics evoke a deep yet unstable love – of a partner and the wider world. “Break of dawn I feel as if my body has returned,” she sings on ‘Return Again’. “Motionless I memorise the beautiful, burning sands of your presence,” increasing the positive emphasis before: “How difficult of me to fall in love with you,” devastates.
The pace remains slow and reflective throughout, the melancholic mood hugely effective on the listener.
The multi-layered vocals of ‘A Little Grim’ help make it a stand-out track. “Let me assure you love will turn out some way,” sings Arnalds with a beguiling confidence.It’s the sort of album that would sound at home on Fence Records, and there are strong notes of Joanna Newsome and Sufjan Stevens evident throughout.
The way that her voice sits within the music gives the album a charming, up-in-the-mountains freshness. The exotic warble of Arnalds’ high notes is unlike anything to be heard on a Saturday night television contest, particularly in playful opener ‘German Fields’. Further highlights include ‘Return Again’, a pretty if sad number that plucks the heartstrings, whereas ‘Treat Her Kindly’ has — perhaps expectedly — a reflective, earnest quality. Right in the middle of the album, ‘A Little Grim’ features a beautiful layered-voice part, giving this delicate song a choral, fairytale air. Arnalds’ musical upbringing shines throughout the record, which is inventive, emotional and at all times done in her unique way. Such sincerity and impulsiveness make Sudden Elevation an appealing collection of songs.
This is a satisfying album and whilst Arnalds will doubtless carry on recording and performing in her mother tongue, there is much here to suggest she will be just as successful when she next ventures into English. Her flowing lyrics spring from joyous experimentation, as is so often found when an artist is creating with the freedom that comes with writing in a different language. What is more, Arnalds looks set to continue to inspire as she explores her magical, eerily uplifting creative niche.