Barwick started working on her album in mid 2010 and in early 2011 the album released by Asthmatic Kitty Records. The album contains elements of new-age and ambient music.
Upon completion of the album, Barwick said:
The Magic Place was a tree on our farm. It was in the back pasture. It was one tree that grew up, down and around. You had to crawl in and once you were inside, it was like there were different rooms, and you could actually lay in the branches. We named it 'The Magic Place' because it really was magical—especially for a kid... and that's how I feel about my life right now—without trying to sound too hippy dippy or cosmic, this year has definitely been a magical one.
The Magic Place received very positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 82, based on 18 reviews, indicating "Universal Acclaim".Allmusic writer, K. Ross Hoffman gave a positive review to the album and awarded it with 4 stars out of 5 and noted: "her sound has a comfortingly homespun, unfussy quality, and a patient, uplifting serenity, that remain uniquely her own". The most positive review came from MusicOMH that praised the album with four and half star out of five and wrote: "Julianna Barwick is crafting gorgeously effecting sounds in a way that nobody has quite heard before, far beyond the snickering Enya comparisons or the reductive ties to Brian Eno's ambience, this isn't music for thinking or studying, this is just music for living". Mark Richardson of Pitchfork called the album one of the best new music of 2011 and commented on it: "The Magic Place, her first album for Asthmatic Kitty, stands above her earlier work in virtually every way".PopMatters also gave a positive review to the album and wrote: "Try as you might to explain Julianna Barwick's incomparable, indescribable music, maybe it's best to let The Magic Place do all the talking, because the results speak for themselves".Mojo magazine praised the album on their Jun 2011, p. 96 issue, noting it was "her most fully involved album, suffused with the warmth of fond memories and a deep, dream-like resonance." Uncut magazine was also positive on the album with 4 star out of 5 and wrote: "The sense of naive wonder evident recalls the bewitching power of Sigur Rós." Sputnikmusic gave it 4 stars out of 5 and commented on it: "It's Barwick's most evocative instrument, one that sparkly piano notes can only help fill the room for, and one with which she diminishes too many comparisons to Panda Bear and other leftfield pop musicians".The Village Voice gave a positive review and wrote: "The Magic Place, Barwick's first release on Asthmatic Kitty, trails a dreamlike reverie across its 45 minutes".BBC Music was positive on the album and wrote: "The Magic Place, splendidly, isolates the listener, cuts them off from the world around them".Slant offered a mixed review which gave the album 3 stars out of 5 and concluded: "In the end, The Magic Place is a beautiful, ambiguous diversion better suited as a companion soundtrack to some experimental film or art installation than as the debut for a promising young singer".
Pitchfork placed the album at number 24 on its list of the "Top 50 albums of 2011".BBC Music ranked it at 19 of 25 in its own run down of the best albums of 2011.