Posts filed under ‘Marissa Nadler’
You can hear a stream of Marissa Nadler’s latest record, “The Sister”, at soundcloud. At first listen, this eight-song album may sound stripped down, the essentials cut to a folk starkness, filled with guitar strums, dexterous guitar-picking, lithely pretty vocals, background vocal harmonies, and warm backing instruments. But in another way, the arrangements feel baroque and complex in their subtlety. One of the standouts, “Constantine”, is in that Joanna Newsom range, existing somewhere between folk, Americana, and Arthurian conjuring. It’s playfully and exquisitely wordy, as arcane imagery mixes with hushed verses of love and sibilants strung together like pearls on a necklace: “Constantine’s in his limousine / Does he recall the coding days? / Tambourines, with the water clean / I sat silver screen at his cabarets / But he joined a band to play rock and roll / I sat, sitting center on a summer stroll.” A song like “To a Road, Love” is a tightrope walk of delicacy, the tension building through Nadler’s lightsome and limber vocal stretching. It might be the best track on the record. Listen for yourself below. Most of the album harkens back to the days of the chanteuse, where everything seems centered around the female voice, like on “Your Heart Is a Twisted Vine”. The nostalgia-soaked “In a Little Town” is darkly picturesque, gliding gracefully through beautiful end-rhymes and sentiment about reminiscence, inspiration, and the passing of time: “You brought me to this song / And these strings I bring along / May be the last chance that you get in a little town.” The album’s official release date is May 29. Follow Nadler at facebook, twitter, and bandcamp. Note: All lyrics are unofficial. – David D. Robbins Jr.
Marissa Nadler sent out an album of covers to fans who contributed, via Kickstarter, to the release of her most recent record. The songs are a wonderful mix of genres, from Radiohead’s “No Surprises” and John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” to “Townes Van Zandt’s “Colorado Girl” and Xiu Xiu’s “Clowne Town”. But the absolute diamond of the bunch is the heart-wrenching, honey-drip paced re-imagining of The Lemonheads’ “My Drug Buddy”. Obviously, it’s a song about getting a drug hook-up. But it’s more than that. It’s part tragedy, part love affair with the person you enjoy doing drugs with. Misery (even if you don’t know you are) loves company. And there’s something settling about that. It’s a song about loneliness and friendship. It’s still hard to imagine lead singer Evan Dando feeling so low as to write a verse as marvelous and sad as this, “I’m too much with myself / I wanna be someone else.” Sometimes being with someone else makes a person forget wanting to be someone else. At least that’s the hope. It’s a devastating track, made even richer by Marissa and friends. The vocal harmonies are hypnotically crushing in their lushness — their opulent slumbers giving the song the gravity it deserves. (Just listen to the delicate changes of vocal volume, like with the line, “There’s still some of the same stuff we got yesterday.”) The vocal phrasing on this track is numbingly pretty. Sorry, but no downloads for this track. I’m greedy like that. Listen and weep, my dear friends. Then next time Marissa starts another Kickstarter project or something like it — pony up and maybe you’ll get a taste of something as beautiful and stunning as this imaginative track. I haven’t heard a cover as good as this in ages. Note: Art is a photo manipulation using a photograph from the artist’s webpage mixed with an image of Dando. — David D. Robbins Jr.
Cloud Seeding is a music project formed by Brooklyn-based guitarist Kevin Serra. The project will combine the vocal talent of a musician he admires and his musical abilities. The first collaboration begins with a Their Bated Breath favorite, singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler. The pair combine for two psychedelic and drifting songs, “Ink Jar” and “Unquestioning”. The former finds Nadler putting her beautiful pipes to good use, her vocals curling and lingering around soft-strummed electric guitar: “When you came into my house / I’m better off without you.” “Unquestioning” is beautifully understated. Nadler’s vocals trailing, nearly imperceptible, like a distant haunting behind Serra’s wafting and mysterious music. Serra says he is currently working with other artists and intends to release more Cloud Seeding singles. Note: Visit Nadler’s site to buy her latest self-titled solo record. Collage art created by Ryan Walsh. – David D. Robbins Jr.
In the interest of full disclosure, I put a few dollars into this new Marissa Nadler project, along with over 390 other people. Nadler put together a very cool Kickstarter campaign in November of last year and raised enough money (over $17,000) to create a new record, due to be released this spring. So yes, she’s just that good — so much so — that fans were willing to kick-in just to hear her sing more songs. Be sure to check out her website, and who knows, maybe she’ll start another campaign and you can contribute too. But first things first. Nadler just posted a new single, “Baby, I Will Leave You In the Morning”, from off her upcoming release at Epitonic.com. If you remember, Epitonic.com was a groundbreaking site years ago and one of the first to offer free and legal MP3s for you to expand your musical tastes. The track feels old-school with a Nancy Sinatra meets Dusty Springfield kinda vibe. Nadler said this about the new music, “I ended up recording 15 songs with the amazing Brian McTear, with 11 of those on the proper record, and 4 on a companion EP. There are songs completely acoustic, with just me and my guitar. There are songs that are a tiny bit more flushed out. There are spacey songs that make you want to float away. There are many sad songs of course. There are songs that appear for the first time using absolutely no reverb on my voice (two songs to be exact).” – David D. Robbins Jr.
Sharon Van Etten’s voice can silence a room. It’s loaded with so many natural intangibles. She has a clear-lined timbre, fragile as thread. Her emotive ebbs enchant with gentility, like the glacial beauty of poured honey. The last track, “Love More”, on her new seven-track record “Epic”, is the best song of 2010, so far. It opens with the buzzing resonation of a portable harmonium. Van Etten’s voice stretches across her dark dirge like a lullaby, transfixing with lyrics of conspicuous imagery and ambiguous meaning: “Chained, to the wall of our room / Yeah, you chained me like a dog in our room …” Immediately following that line is one of the prettiest vocal melodies you’ll hear; an extended note and fluttery pitch like a ghazal singer.
There’s something really beautiful going on here. The figurative language of the song circles around the often torturous nature of love, coming back full circle to verses of future promise, “She made me love, she made me love, love more …” It’s a song topically chilly and instrumentally warm. Its richly-layered harmonics blend into sliding fricatives, settling on a tone that’s somber, heartbreaking, and intimate as nakedness. There are delicate touches, like the rustle of sandblock, a light vocal reverb, deep resonating drum, beautiful delay-effected guitar moans, and Van Etten’s subtle word intonations.
The small details are Van Etten’s forte. She seems to relish in them, like the notion of love contained in the gentle touching of feet in “Much More Than That” from her 2009 debut album, “Because I Was In Love”: “My toe hit your toe lightly / Your toe met my heel right back / And I don’t think I need much more than that.” Her debut record was largely built on a soft folk foundation, layered harmonies, and light tambourine — allowing Van Etten to spread her vocal melodies like drops of watercolor on textured paper. But the new album sheds some of the singer-songwriter vulnerability and instead finds her with an actual band, a new sharpness, and higher volume. Her sincerity is still there. She’s as personal as ever. However, “Epic” begins with more of a bang than a whimper.
The album opener, “A Crime”, is a bitter reflection on loving too hard, beginning with a roughly strummed guitar and pointed vocals, utilizing Van Etten’s lower register skills. “Peace Signs” is downright explosive, showing a confident singer branching out and finding a different way to use her voice within an aggressive rock and roll structure, built on heavy drums and guitar: “I still dream when I think of you / In the calm of the night / And I don’t know what to do / Peace signs / When I wake up, I am already me / And I am not a afraid, I am something / Peace signs.”
The piano-rollicking ballad, “Save Yourself” (one of the strongest tracks on the record), is a song made for knocking back a half-bottle of Scotch at the local tavern. It lulls with a gracefully rolling chorus, floating vocal harmonies and Cat Power prowess. It’s a bittersweet song about selfishness in a relationship. But listening to Van Etten sing the word “reeling” feels like the whole beauty of world has unfolded into that hazily-tinged sensation one gets being drunk with a good friend: “You still make me smile / As much as I am reeling / It has been awhile … / Don’t you think I know, you’re only trying to save yourself? / Just like everyone else.”
“DsharpG” is the majestically moody companion piece to “Love More”. It’s a spiritual awakening, akin to the sounds of The Velvet Underground, with their spacious noise sprawl and loud drones. The song calls out with pulsing harmonium, stunning vocal scaling, and sparse drum thumps that fade into a musical disintegration of found sounds, inaudible whispers, and a brief faint chorus. “Don’t Do It” interestingly levels out the volume of the instruments with Van Etten’s voice. They get equal-billing so-to-speak, towering into a sound more loud than anything Van Etten has done to date. “One Day” is an elegant plaintive-waltz with a country-tinged chorus that is so open in its musical range one could imagine Loretta Lynn as well as Aimee Mann doing their own versions of the song. Van Etten wondered on “Because I Was In Love” if she’d be a better writer someday. Well, she’s always been a good songwriter, but now she’s broadened into a new range of sounds, which include rock, pop, avant-garde experimentation, and a country-strain of Americana. This is one of the best albums of the year.
Note: Van Etten is currently touring with songstress Marissa Nadler and can be heard in these cities: Sep. 9: Charlottesville, Va. at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar; Sep. 12: Charlotte, N.C. at The Milestone; Sep. 13: Knoxville, Tenn. at The Pilot Light; Sep. 14: Atlanta, Ga. at 529. (The lyrics referenced in the review are unofficial.)
GHOST IN THE ROOM: ‘Haunting’ is an often over-used descriptive reviewers like to use when writing about low-key, lush music. But in the case of Marissa Nadler’s new track, “Daisy, Where Did You Go?”, it’s certainly apropos. There’s a unique duality to Nadler’s music. She is blessed with a voice both earth-rich and heavenly. Her music is the meeting place for a flower’s growth and the grave’s end. Nadler is more than a classic folk voice. Her vocals linger, like perfume in a room, long after the song has finished. It’s not surprising that Nadler once studied art and old-world painting in college. Now she paints melodies with her voice like moonlight paints pavement.
The guitar-picking on “Daisy, Where Did You Go?” is quick and melodic, with Nadler playing bass notes with her thumb and syncopated rhythms with her index finger. The mood of the song is melancholic. It’s dusty with age, and built on a dark sort of Americana mythology. Nadler sings these lyrics about loss, “Inside the room / A cold wind is bloom / There are two of us here, / That I know / Daisy, where did you go?” This song is a sequel to her track, “The Story of Daisy and Violet” (from her tour CD “Ivy and Clovers”), about real-life conjoined twins. The Hilton girls were part of various sideshow acts throughout the first quarter of the 20th century. The myth is that Daisy died first, living without her sister for two days, before her own death. Even though that’s likely untrue, it’s a beautiful place for Nadler to begin a touching re-imagining of what it means to lose someone.
Nadler will be playing shows with Sharon Van Etten starting in September. One can only imagine hearing the two in their own sort of conjunction. It’s a can’t miss concert. Hearing Nadler sing “All Love Must Die” only to be followed up by Van Etten singing “Love More”, would be a grand musical overload. Nadler’s new song follows on the heels of her 2009 LP “Little Hells” and her version of “All My Trials” on the compilation, “Beautiful Star: The Songs of Odetta”. Follow Nadler at her blog here or listen to more songs at ReverbNation. Note: Photo taken by Daniel Daskivich, altered by David D. Robbins Jr. – Words by David D. Robbins Jr.