It takes only a few seconds’ exposure to Agnetha Faltskog’s wonderful new album, A, to experience a familiar feeling. When Agnetha opens her mouth and sings the first lines of The One Who Loves You Now, our sense of recognition is immediate. A voice that soundtracked millions of lives, it has not been heard on record since the release, nine years ago, of her chart-topping album My Colouring Book, yet those opening notes demonstrate that nothing has changed. Her crystalline, precisely enunciated tones, that heartbreaking vulnerability, the sense that Agnetha is singing directly to each and every one of us.
The recording sessions that Agnetha so enjoyed last year yielded 10 remarkable songs, including a duet – I Should’ve Followed You Home – with Gary Barlow, and the beautiful, confessional I Keep Them On the Floor Beside My Bed, which Agnetha co-wrote.. Other highlights on A include the contemplative Bubble, a song that encapsulates Agnetha’s attitude to fame, the rollercoaster disco ride of Dance Your Pain Away, the sugar-rush pop of Back On Your Radio, the amazing first single When You Really Loved Someone and the tender, piano-led Past Forever.
For the woman who started writing songs at the age of five, who played the harpsichord in her local church, and sang in its choir, who first had a No 1 single when she was 18, and then went on to conquer the world with Abba, the journey continues – at her own pace, and on her own terms. Life offers you lessons, Agnetha says: the key is to heed them. She’s been away, but now she’s returned – with an album of songs that are somehow timeless, and sung in a voice whose beauty time has not dimmed.