Soap&Skin

The expression 'an old soul in a young body' has been attached to Anja Plaschg, aka Soap&Skin, more than once and as she releases her new mini-album, Narrow, entirely self-played and produced, she again sounds wise beyond her years. The teenage wunderkind whose 2009 debut album Lovetune for Vacuum charted across Europe attempted to look twice her age in the cover portrait, and if she didn't quite pull it off she certainly made a convincing widow in weeds.

But since her initial success Plaschg has come to know real sadness, not just its verisimilitude. Her father died suddenly of a stroke in July 2009 and her response, the traumatic, cathartic wail 'Vater', is as openly emotional and intense as pop music gets, an outpouring of genuine pain in the face of death. The vocals are unsettling and eerie, while the piano-led arrangement, owing more to modern classical than run of the mill singer-songwriters, slips into appropriately dissonant and discomfiting areas. Though sung in German the emotions expressed are identifiably beyond language. Yet even this harrowing love song to a dead parent concludes with a moment of levity, a clipped note that echoes and mocks the 'everlasting chord' that concluded the Beatles' 'A Day In The Life'. It's strangely intimate, like a little window into their relationship.

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