Exposé Online banner

Marissa Nadler — Ballads of Living and Dying
(Eclipse ECL-036, 2004, CD)

Marissa Nadler — The Saga of Mayflower May
(Eclipse ECL-044, 2005, CD)

by Cesar Montesano, Published 2006-05-01

Ballads of Living and Dying Cover artThe Saga of Mayflower May Cover art

The voice is crystalline and exhilaratingly haunting, a crisp and refreshing elixir. Her muse is resolute, hewn from emotion, fashioned from a steadfast rock that never falters. Melancholy is a vehicle. In this case, it carries hallmarks of hopeful redemption. Languid and endearing, she is one of the unsung heroes of the decade to come; Marissa brings solace from the hollows directly beneath the human shell. Ms. Nadler's communiqué takes a classic foray into the world of early folk-rockers. In traditional troubadour fashion, her art is a conduit for soulfulness. Casting her lot directly and honestly may even serve as some form of cathartic transfiguration. This careful songsmithing seeks to escape the confines of an internal world. More so than many, expression is a necessity for her – these songs must be sung.

She carries herself humbly, subdued in manner. When I saw her perform and we conversed a bit afterwards, I found Marissa's countenance to be quite genteel. Her energy carries a touch of similarly understated Nick Drake-ian proportions. Much of her dialectic traces the road of Vashti Bunyan in forlorn spirit, although not as seemingly innocent nor with that form of figurative lyricism. She is also a mite sadder. Her style meshes together elements of Joni Mitchell, Bert Jansch, Judy Collins, Jackson C. Frank, and Sandy Denny. Her acoustic guitar rides alongside, an understanding steed, stepping tunefully in tandem with empirical empathy. The playing is excellent and periodically accompanied by organ. Whenever her voice is double-tracked, a maudlin specter overtakes the atmosphere. Wistful diaphanous gauze sheets lull you into her swirling power.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2004 releases, 2005 releases

Related artist(s): Marissa Nadler

Latest news

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Naoki Ishida - Fazing Redust – Although one's initial reaction to this obviously low-budget recording (the hiss throughout is quite noticeable) of seemingly aimless sonic noodling might be rejection, the seven tracks herein do have...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues