On Ólöf Arnalds’ stunning first two albums, 2010’s Vio og Vio and Innundir Skinni, the Icelandic trobairitz unfurled winding streams of childlike vocals in her native tongue. For her third, Sudden Elevation, due March 5 on One Little Indian, she transitions to English, taking a step away from the angular and often cold sounds of fellow countrymen Björk and Sigur Rós. Though she’s worked with both those artists, Arnalds is a closer cousin to Joanna Newsom; they share a fondness for poetic lyrics, sweetly wavering vocals, and gentle plucking.
And while Newsom has her harp, Arnalds employs a guitar to harp-like effect, on Elevation’s elegaic “Return Again.” It’s a quiet romanesca — built on the sparest piano and strings — that lets Arnalds ruminate on the beautiful burn of desire. “I reappear with you / I disappear with you / You disappear from me / How difficult of me to fall in love with you,” she opines in a tender warble. At last, a soundtrack that imbues the unbearable weight of longing with breathtaking lightness.