Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stream: Marissa Nadler - The Sister

Confession time: It's been dark and dreary all day and my mood has certainly been reflecting this. It's now raining and I'm too broke to go out or order in so I have taken to writing about the best albums that I've heard over the past week. The latest from Marissa Nadler is a perfect listen for my current disposition. Her sixth album is the sister to last year’s self-titled release, which was one of my favorites of 2011. It is also the second from her Box of Cedar Records. Where the self-titled release found her expanding her palette, The Sister has her stripping it back down. The songs have skeletal structures but rich narratives.

The first lines expressed are "You said you'd need a wrecking ball to break the cement around the heart" and it sounds like she's volunteering herself for the job. The somber acoustic arpeggio and angelic vocals lay the groundwork for a nocturnal stroll through profound examination. "Love Again, There is a Fire" follows as a ghostly track marked by its fragile piano. "Apostle" is the most affecting moment on the album and speaks right to the soul with it's lyrics: "You said it's time to put away the bottle / I don't remember what you said / I will take you in as my apostle / Because I love us in our bed," which is capped with gorgeous cries of "I'm holding on to you." Here she sounds like a more delicate version of Neko Case with guitars shimmering in the background.

As a whole, there is a dominating sense of introspective nostalgia; that of one looking back at their life and painting what they see through delicate strokes of melody. She has sharpened her storytelling abilities and is able to bring to life the characters in songs like "Christine" and "Constantine". "Christine" describes a woman who is unsure if she can love or be loved and "Constantine" is the story of a rock 'n' roller who had lost their way. The gorgeous finger-picked guitar lines, haunting vocals, and ethereal backdrops portray these tales with penetrating emotion. The record is a brisk listen but these sparse, naked arrangements will resonant in your mind well after it is over.

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