2022 has been one hell of a year for Iceland’s Arny Margret. Despite barely being into her twenties, the singer-songwriter has steadily cultivated a growing listenership of adoring fans, and where’s the surprise in that? Listen to the first 45 seconds of her playing “intertwined” in an empty church, and it’s all you need; it’s certainly how I was initially enticed. Take in the dusky, dulcet sounds and it subsequently becomes easy to grasp why Margret is being included on countless curated playlists all over the world, featured in festival line-ups that take her across oceans and continents, and interviewed with increasing frequency. It’s impressive, for sure.
If you’re experiencing déjà vu, don’t be alarmed. You see, this is also the third time we at Everything Is Noise have published pieces on this incredible artist this year alone. Previously, I wrote a review of her excellent February EP, intertwined, and a subsequent Weekly Featured Artist spotlight piece. Both of these carry significance: the EP was a promising 13-minute sliver of sound that rendered me helpless to Arny Margret‘s charming, homespun tones. Meanwhile, the WFA interview was an opportunity to sit down with her and chat, which, frankly, was marvellous and felt like catching up with an old friend – an echo of the sense of humanity and ease with which her songs grip you.
At one point during our conversation, Margret was asked about her future ambitions and shared that, ‘We have a bunch more songs…like, a ten-song thing…and we have those ready to go… I really want them to get out…’ I would struggle to express just how impatiently I have waited for this album since finding that out, and now that they only talk about the weather is here, I’m pleased to report that it is absolutely magnificent in every which way.
For a start, it’s longer than the EP (which, selfishly, was my only quibble with Margret’s first studio outing). Here, we are treated to ten tracks of emotionally resonant music – a pouring of the soul slathered over poignant progressions and passing chords that are never afraid to let the song breathe and you, the captivated listener, respond to the harmonious product of Margret’s dedicated efforts however you feel compelled. She has conjured a blissful, snowy terrain of sound that is a joy to amble through, warmed by the glowing embers of her soft compositional dynamics, and it’s far from a mere rehash of what made intertwined so great.
Rest assured, though, that Arny Margret doubles down on the enchanting elements of this album’s predecessor. What’s more, the flicker of instrumental additions really propels the record into new territory with great success. Newly featured drums are sparse enough to feel both surprising and invigorating with each appearance; they’re a definite evolution of Margret’s sound and scope of texture, altogether avoiding any risk of incompatibility and instead slotting readily into songs such as single “cold aired breeze”. The track (alongside others, like “ties”) is sheer loveliness – an upbeat stroll of fingerpicked guitar and populous vocal parts that belies the somewhat melancholy message contained within the delightful few minutes of its passing. And for those who yearn for the minimalist partnership of Margret and guitar, you’ll be pleased to know that she still regularly records exquisite live renditions of her tracks.
For all the extra spark that the drum work provides, the characteristically reclined, intimate ambience that I praised in February is still prevalent here. Iceland is a staggeringly beautiful part of the world, and I wholly stand by previous statements that Margret matches its palette of hues and shades with her music in an inimitable way. On “balcony”, for example, we are lulled into a lambent number where wild, undisturbed spaciousness abounds. Petering chords and deepened swells gently descend like snowfall as Margret soothes with that signature breathy tone. Even her tuneful hums dissipate pleasantly like cold breath greeting the same wintry soundscapes embodied in her songs. Venture further into the wilderness of the record, and you’ll encounter droplets of piano and atmospheric layered harmonies on “sníglar” and “wind was blowing”.
Nestled within the familiar trill of her voice, the mellifluous use of harmony, and the strum of strings lies an endearing vulnerability. On each and every track across they only talk about the weather, Arny Margret draws you effortlessly into the charmingly disarming narratives she unfurls within her personable and relatable lyrics. While themes of self-discovery, reflection, quiet hopefulness, and disappointment are not uncharted territory in the musical world, Margret is able to convey her messages in a heartfelt and endearing manner; it lends a weighty realism to each track that is moving – bolstering the already contemplative instrumentation on songs like “the world is between us” and the record’s sauntering titular track.
This level of vulnerability elevates the album, giving the impression that each outpouring of soul – such as the conflicted words of “ties” or the deceptively sprightly, laden lines of “untitled” – was written to empathise as well as verbalise. It’s as though Margret has an empty seat for you at her table, and her lyrics serve as no less than an extended hand of friendship from someone who’s only human, just like the rest of us. This candour brings the reverberating melodies of songs like “abandoned” to land not only on attentive ears, but to rest on the soul, shimmering supportively from the ethereal musical blanket that so warmly envelops us in the dark.
Arny Margret once again enthralls with her wistful, emotive folk. This album bears remarkable familiarity and comfort, while the added musical flourishes are welcome – serving only to embolden her already great music further. The young Icelandic songstress has had quite a year on the road and in the studio, and only seems to go from strength to strength, making her as exciting to watch as the colourful celestial displays that linger above her homeland. Arny Margret can claim that they only talk about the weather, but it’ll be a long time before I find anything to talk about other than this wonderful album.
Photo credit: Anna Maggy