Singer-songwriter Olof Arnalds has one of the most distinctive voices around — only in part because she's from Iceland and usually warbles her folk-flavored tunes in her native Nordic tongue, a language often described as "elvish" (think Bjork, Sigur Ros or other Icelandic artists). But, while Arnalds' voice is certainly quirky, it's also heartwarming and beautiful. With her gently plucked guitar lines and loving melodies, her songs emit an almost magical glow.
Arnalds has long been a part of Iceland's close-knit group of experimental folk and rock artists; she recorded and toured with the Reykjavik-based band Mum for five years. Sigur Ros' Kjartan Sveinsson produced Arnalds' 2007 debut album Vi∂ og Vi∂, as well as her follow-up, this year's Innundir Skinni, which features a duet with Bjork. It's also Arnalds' first record to include songs sung in English.
For this Tiny Desk set, Arnalds is joined by multi-instrumentalist and singer Davíð Þór Jónsson. Arnalds is a classically trained violinist, but she plays guitar on two of these tracks — and a churango made from an armadillo shell on another. The result is a quiet but lovely, utterly captivating performance.