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Boomkat Product Review:
A follow-up to the widely acclaimed debut (Við og Við) by this Icelandic singer-songwriter, Innundir Skinni is another fine selection of fragile folk tunes, this time supplemented by English language entries, and perhaps most notably, a duet with Björk. Glancing over the album credits, there are further ties to some of Iceland's biggest musical exports: Kjartan Sveinsson of Sigur Ros produces the album (having also worked on her first LP) while Skúli Sverrisson (an associate of Lou Reed and Hildur Guðnadóttir among others) and Shahzad Ismaily (known for work with Tom Waits and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) help out too. Innundir Skinni begins very quietly, with 'Vinur Mann' slipping into an unassuming acoustic strum before ascending into a kind of melancholy calypso sound reinforced by a choir and orchestra. From here onwards the album flirts with these sorts of expansive arrangements but keeps returning to the intimacy of Arnalds' voice and guitar. These spare constituent parts are all that's required to carry the wonderful, baroque title track, and similarly, Arnalds wields what sounds like a ukulele for 'Vikonur', evoking the kind of clarion purity of sound Joanna Newsom might summon up. When Arnalds does reach for some sort of embellishment it tends to pan out beautifully, as on the winsome string arrangement for 'Madrid', whose languid legato tones nicely play off Arnalds' brittle fingerpicking. Perhaps predictably, that Björk duet provides the album with one of its highlights, and the soaring presence of Ms. Guðmundsdóttir provides a suitable foil to Arnalds' comparatively diminutive and understated vocal style. A marked evolutionary step for Arnalds' artistry, Innundir Skinni is an exquisite alt. folk collection and a considerably less dainty affair than its predecessor.