Marissa Nadler: Marissa Nadler Review
Most artists get their self-titled album out of the way early on, releasing it as their first or second project and then moving on from there. Singer/songwriter Marissa Nadler, however, has waited nearly seven years since her debut to record her titular opus. Marissa Nadler will be her fifth studio LP, and it comes at a time when Nadler has already established herself as one of the most talented (if under appreciated) voices in the country. The long wait time adds a bit of gravitas to the forthcoming release, as if to say: “this piece will be the definitive Marissa Nadler.” And that might not be too far of the mark either: according to Nadler her self-titled record is “the most honest, natural record [she’s] ever written.”
If indeed Nadler’s fifth album is her most self-embodied, it doesn’t speak well for her psyche. Marissa Nadler the record is a pretty bleak, melancholy collection of eleven densely atmospheric folk tunes. But still, as a singer who seems to carry the weight of a thousand crushed romances on her shoulders, a bunch of devil-may-care songs would probably have rung a bit hollow. Melancholy is what Nadler does best, and on her titular record she excels at it. Her sparely strummed guitar chords and heavily reverbed piano tones solemnly and gorgeously compliment her complex metaphors for tortured relationships. While some tunes like “Alabaster Queen” and “Wedding” seem hopeful (albeit doom-tinged) songs like “Wind Up Doll” and “Puppet Master” hint none too subtly that things have not always gone well in the past.
Musically Marissa Nadler hews pretty closely to the artist’s established formula of both strumming and classical guitar supplemented by other instrumentation. In a few cases, such as in “The Sun Always Reminds Me of You” and “Wedding,” Nadler makes the use of some far-out sounding synthesizers. Drums also make a notable appearance, punctuating the atmosphere with delicate rhythms and elegantly brushed cymbals. For the most part though she sticks to a traditional sound that relies heavily on confessional hushed folk as well as a little country twang.
It could be construed as sad how an artist’s “most honest” representation of herself sounds so forlorn, but as with her last few records, Nadler manages to make her suffering a thing of great beauty. While the quietly intimate intensity of the album’s melodies set a majestic tone, its Nadler’s soul-wrenching singing that really draws the listener in. The notoriously shy singer, while admittedly already an agonizingly personal lyricist, seems to lay bare the last shreds of her concealment in the lyrics of her new tunes. The meanings aren’t always apparent, but by the emotional weight Nadler puts into every hushed syllable you can tell that each utterance has deep personal meaning. I have no trouble believing that the eleven tracks of Marissa Nadler are honest to the core, and consequently I also do not doubt that they are some of the songwriter’s best.
— Jon Behm
Marissa Nadler will perform at the Turf Club on July 22nd
Marissa Nadler will be available on 6/14 via Box of Cedar Records
Marissa Nadler: Site