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Mirel Wagner - "No Death"
My purest, best, most emotionally devastating music moment of my year happened just a night or two later, when catching Ethiopian-born, Finland-raised singer Mirel Wagner's Hopscotch performance. Due to a torrential rainstorm that rolled in during the day, Wagner's long flights and late set were delayed by many more hours, leaving her with an early morning start, playing to an opera hall only a third full with the few people who'd been able to suss out the schedule change, and the fewer willing to wait around for her huge, but still semi-obscure talent. Alone on the big stage, only an acoustic guitar for help...she was phenomenal. A clear, strong voice of pain and exhaustion, with no show-biz gimmicks or showy stage craft to speak of. She still managed to keep the room alive in an expectant hush. "No Death", the standout track from her stark, amazing debut record, mingled grief, love, and surreal horror with natural conviction. I'll never forget it.