Mirel Wagner sings spare songs with harrowing intimacy

First of all, it’s very difficult to believe that Mirel Wagner is just 23. The Ethiopian-born, Finland-raised singer has the air of someone who has done far more living than that on a pair of songs from her forthcoming self-titled debut.

They’re folk songs, probably, in that they consist mostly of spooky acoustic guitar and her voice, so close in the speaker that it sounds like she’s murmuring directly into you ear. It’s intimate to the point of being uncomfortable, yet so riveting you can’t bear to pull away.

Wagner performs this year at SXSW, and she’s vaulted to the top of our list of must-see artists at the festival.

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