Band of the Day

2011.10.09

Marissa Nadler

Gorgeously forlorn folk music, anchored by an incredible voice
Funny how the time can turn your headlights shining like a fire from above.
lyrics from Baby I Will Leave You in the Morning

Marissa Nadler is an artist/musician based out of Boston, Massachusetts. A multi-instrumentalist, she plays guitar, piano, keyboards and banjo on her albums. Nadler sings over dreamy soundscapes in a smooth, breathy mezzo-soprano voice. Her compositions, which sound like folk from the outside, hypnotically pull the listener into a melancholic world of complex melody and structure. Nadler's first LP Ballads of Living and Dying was released in 2004 on Eclipse records and incorporates influences ranging from somber blues and and Portuguese fado. In 2005 Nadler released her second LP the Saga of Mayflower May to warm review. Her later LPs include Songs III: Bird on the Water (2007), Little Hells (2009) and Marissa Nadler (2011).

Armed with a husky, wistful voice that you’d follow to the ends of the earth, Marissa Nadler’s delicate acoustic compositions resist easy categorization. Folk? Country? Psych-rock? She’s incorporated elements of all of these genres over her five full-length albums, but ultimately, Nadler is a storyteller that manages to wrench something primal and timeless out of her songs the way songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits do. A 30-year-old native of rural Massachusetts, and current resident of Boston, Nadler’s first artistic passion was painting, and she earned a degree in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design before focusing on music in 2004. Her songs gravitate towards loss and heartbreak, a setting that fits Nadler’s rich falsetto perfectly. Even the sun is melancholy as she sings, “The sun always reminds me of you” on her 2011 self-titled LP. Nadler has hit it out of the park with her last three full-lengths, 2007’s Songs III: Bird on the Water, 2009’s Little Hells, and 2011’s Marissa Nadler. Songs III: Bird on the Water features Nadler in full ballad mode, singing of forlorn characters across time and space. The songs tend to be simple, little more than Nadler’s gently picked guitar and reverb drenched vocals supplemented by the odd cello or twinkling bell. “Diamond Heart” is a hushed break-up track, sounding almost like a female Iron & Wine with its delicate guitar and beautifully sad vocals. “Mexican Summer” mines dreamy territory; its shimmering guitar and unhurried pace allowing Nadler’s incredible vocals to split through the mix. Nadler’s June 2011 release Marissa Nadler may be her best yet. As suggested by the name, the album is more personal than earlier releases, and sees Nadler more vulnerable than ever before. “The Sun Always Reminds Me of You” sounds like a mix between Bends-era Radiohead and an introspective Dolly Parton, as Nadler asks “Why does the sun always remind me of you / I would know / that there ain't nothing but love songs on the radio” over a twangy pedal steel guitar. “Baby I Will Leave You In The Morning” is a slow-paced, hook-filled track that seems ripe for inclusion in a Quentin Tarantino film with its subtly sinister tone.