Marissa Nadler | The Sister

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.

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