(20 December 2009) Agnès Milewski was born in Knurów, Poland and lives now in Vienna, Austria. People from Austria and all over the world have been impressed her music since bursting onto the scene in 2007 with her first album Pretty Boys and Ugly Girls (Office4Music (Austria) 9 120024 951513, 2007). In 2008 she won the Austrian Newcomer Award. This year Agnès will release her second album Learn to Swim. Watch for our review of the album and exclusive interview with the artist.
Agnès Milewski has been recognized as fine composer and leads the audience simply to another world with her remarkable music. The lyrics show a melancholic, deep and fantastic world in her soul. Her beautiful voice together with a powerful liveband create nothing but an emotional and highly energetic musical experience. With stated influences of Bjork, Charlotte Martin and Tori Amos, Musical Discoveries visitors Agnès' power, intonations and range also produce allusions to Michelle Loose, the singer from Brave and Arise From Thorns.
Agnès provides the lead vocals and piano. Her live band is comprised of Michael Hecht (bass), Michael Leibetseder (drums), Jimi Dolezal (guitar), Jonas Petersen (violin), Laura Pudelek (cello) and Carolin Ratzinger (flute, tinwhistle, backing vocals, keyboards, electronics). Members of the live band also contribute to the artist's debut album. Agnes' website has recently be relaunched to support her new album and is presented in both English and German.
Agnès Milewski is far from being just a simple artist. The Vienna-based Polish singer/songwriter has a little bit of everything: once she's the nice girl from next door, next she's a sensuous woman. For one moment she's young and naive, in the next she's all grown up and wise. Don't be misled by her innocent appearance or her crystal clear voice or her readily accessible and easy-to-sing-along popsongs. There's more than that, much more. Agnès co-produced the album with Michael Hecht, created the cover artwork and wrote all of the songs and lyrics on her debut album.
Pretty Boys and Ugly Girls is a fifteen track collection with a running time just over an hour. Released when the artist was just 24 years old, the album has drawn critical acclaim in Europe and the rest of the world. The album opens with the gentle rock track "Falling From Grace." Listeners will be immediately drawn by Agnès' crystalline voice and the outstanding instrumental arrangements supporting her lead. "End of my Sleeve" continues the trend, Agnès' lead vocal gliding above the instrumentals. The pace and intensity build immediately with the rocking texture of "Perfect Blue Sky." We were immediately impressed with the production of Agnès lead vocals and the texture Carolin's backing harmonies. Extraordinary guitar solos clearly differentiate Pretty Boys and Ugly Girls from a run-of-the-mill female singer songwriter album.
Harp, flute and tin whistle contribute to the depth of the arrangement of "She Said." Agnès voice evocatively soars in this upbeat Celtic-styled number. It is followed by the rocking album standout "With The Favourites." The power of Agnès vocal delivery above the rich rock arrangements is evident. The outstanding album production is evident in "Monday Philosophy" again with Agnès and Carolin's vocals topping the robust arrangement. The tenderness of the track is underscored with solo piano, flute and string parts.
The layered vocal harmonies in the lilting "Chasing the Wind" are especially well produced, however it is Agnès soaring lead that makes the song so utterly attractive. Rich violin, viola and cello join a crisp piano melody to provide the instrumental foundation for layers of harmony vocals in "Steal away my Autumn." Evocative vocals contribute to the overall texture of this track. The bluegrass "Dandelions, Forest-Fern and Clover" is arranged in stark contrast to the balance of this album yet it serves to further illustrate the diversity of the artist's talent, range and power of her voice.
"Frozen Clouds" is warmly produced and tender ballad sung atop a rich string arrangement, Agnès' evocativly delivered lead vocals right on top alongside a gentle piano melody. In contrast, upbeat piano fronts the arrangement of "Light in my Pocket." Agnès harmony vocals work especially well against her lead in this lovely mid-tempo track. We especially appreciated the return of the guitar and bass arrangement in the gentle rocker "Numb." Listen to the tremendous power of Agnès' vocal delivery on this stunning [Tori Amos-style] track.
"Left Behind" is sung atop a thick guitar- and keyboard-based arrangement. Agnès delivers the lead wonderfully while her harmonies contribute instrumentally to the arrangements. Her piano melody only emerges as the song comes to a conclusion. The title track is actually a wild instrumental riff running less than a minute. "Ready To Take Off" is a gentle piano-backed ballad performed exclusively by Agnès. Perfectly illustrative of the artist's singing and songwriting, it will leave the listener ready to begin playing the album again.
Pretty Boys and Ugly Girls is an outstanding debut album that is certain to draw significant attention to Agnès Milewski. As 2009 comes to a close, the artist will release Learn To Swim which will certainly increase her international audience and bring her further acclaim. Based on the outstanding sound of her first album, we are sure that it will have been worth the wait.