NPR logo First Listen: Julianna Barwick, 'Nepenthe'

First Listen: Julianna Barwick, 'Nepenthe'

Offing

Audio for this story is unavailable.

Julianna Barwick's new album, Nepenthe, comes out August 20. Shawn Brackbill/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Shawn Brackbill/Courtesy of the artist

Julianna Barwick's new album, Nepenthe, comes out August 20.

Shawn Brackbill/Courtesy of the artist

Julianna Barwick makes grand, gracefully sweeping choral music that's so swoonily lovely, it's far too easy to lose sight of the craft that went into making it. Barwick takes small vocal phrases and bits of instrumentation, samples them and loops them impeccably to create a sound that tentatively recalls the impossible lushness of Enya when it's not fanning out into sounds that can be experimental, spare, artful and alluring.

Reflecting influences ranging from Philip Glass to her roots in church, Barwick has assembled a string of lovely, imaginative, hypnotically enveloping albums — the latest of which, Nepenthe, surrounds countless fragments of her voice with subtle snatches of piano, strings and even, in "Pyrrhic," tiny effects that recall Sigur Ros. Like its predecessor, 2011's appropriately titled The Magic Place, Nepenthe (out August 20) isn't just accessibly, prettily head-filling and ethereal. It's downright medicinal, altering the listener's surroundings in ways that make them comfortable, yet still wondrously inviting.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.