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The Sounds of Motown Via Sweden

El Perro Del Mar’s Sarah Assbring conveys vulnerability and pain without histrionics.
El Perro Del Mar’s Sarah Assbring conveys vulnerability and pain without histrionics.

A one-woman band starring Swedish singer Sarah Assbring, El Perro Del Mar could pass for an alternate-universe Motown sensation. Assbring's minimalist sound incorporates touches of jazz and a heavy blend of orchestral strings in a way that finds room for both darkness and uplift.

On "God Knows (You Have to Give to Get)," she locates a hauntingly pretty, simple, oft-repeated melody. Her subtly bouncy chorus benefits immeasurably from the collision of unlikely elements, from Assbring’s innocently emotional delivery to the waves of remarkable strings.

Both dramatic and playful, the result sounds lovably gentle and impeccably crafted: Assbring conveys vulnerability and pain without histrionics. A sweetly simple, gorgeous song, "God Knows (You Have to Give to Get)" captivates with subtle emotions and few words.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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John Richards
John Richards is the host and producer of The Morning Show with John on 90.3 FM KEXP Seattle, and online at kexp.org. He is also KEXP's assistant program director.