Singer/songwriter Mirel Wagner's gothic folk recalls a rich tradition of brooding lyricists from Billie Holiday to Leonard Cohen to Hope Sandoval while crafting a sound uniquely her own. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Espoo, Finland, Wagner first took up music at age seven, learning to play violin; by 13 she switched to guitar and three years later began writing songs. "To the Bone," the opening track from her debut record, represents one of those early works. Jean Ramsay, an American journalist based in Finland, discovered Wagner at an open-mike night in Helsinki, and his rave reviews led the artist to the recording studio, where in two days she laid down 12 songs. Her self-titled full-length debut arrived in Europe in February 2011 (and stateside by March 2012), introducing listeners to her poetic, darkly romantic lyrics, weary yet sensual vocals, and minimalist trance-like guitar playing. For her second album, Wagner collaborated with Finnish producer Sasu Ripatti, best known for his work as Luomo and Vladislav Delay. Ripatti's polished, cavernous on 2014's When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day heightened the eerie intensity of Wagner's music. ~ Chrysta Cherrie
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