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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

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