Photo (c) Alissa Anderson
Sometimes I avoid writing about an artist not because I do not like their music, but because I am afraid my writing could never truly do them justice or capture how strongly I enjoy their music. Marissa Nadler is an artist whom I greatly respect; with her new album arriving shortly, I am expecting only the best from her. I realize that her new album has leaked online, but for now I am trying to avoid prematurely posting songs without permission given by the artist.
If you’re not familiar with her work or want to know more about her upcoming album Songs III: Bird on the Water, take a look at the following mini bio and press release:
Marissa Nadler grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, where perhaps the brutal winters bred into her a chilly disposition and an early propensity for the darker and more melancholy side of things. After spending her childhood painting, she began to play guitar and write songs around the age of 14. Entirely self taught, after home recording two full length records, Marissa Nadler released a cover of a Pearls Before Swine song on a compilation put out by a friend of hers, Jeffrey Alexander (The Iditarod, Black Forest/Black Sea). He was and still is a major figure in the Providence, Rhode Island music scene, which also birthed one of the loudest bands in history, Lightening Bolt. The compilation was Marissa’s first release, put out while Marissa was attending the Rhode Island School of Design for painting. Thurston Moore, among other notable Tom Rapp fans, graced the compilation CD with their experimental interpretations. (For the Dead in Space, vol II) Nadler’s cover of Ballad to An Amber Lady, was the first of many atmospheric and melancholy songs Marissa would record in the years to follow. It was then that she decided to pursue music full time. After quitting a job teaching painting to children in Harlem, Marissa left New York and has been touring various countries and recording ever since.
Marissa’s music is very dreamy and atmospheric: an amalgam of traditional folk, paisley underground, shoe gaze, and dream pop. Almost all of the songs are very sad, about broken hearts, death, or simple burdens. Her voice is what most people immediately respond to, often described as spectral and beautiful. She plays many stringed instruments (including banjo, ukulele, autoharp, guitar, 12 string guitar, and dobro) but is often noted as an excellent, often experimental, guitar player, and is now working on explorations into the twelve string guitar.
She sings songs of the sea, the haunting chansons of maidens, the cowboy ditties of ranchers, and the funerary processions of mourners. The eerie quality of her atmospheric music gives her songs a timelessness and sadness that is often described as other worldly.
Marissa’s first LP Ballads of Living and Dying in 2004, was a release that Pitchfork called “a landscape you may want to get lost in for a century or two,” and that The Wire called “a beauty.” Ballads of Living and Dying was released in the UK in early February of 2005 by Beautiful Happiness Records, meeting the same response overseas as it did in the States, with the Guardian calling it “uncommonly lovely…hard to get out of your head.”
The Saga of Mayflower May was released the following year, and has garnered the same acclaim as did Ballads of Living and Dying, with Pitchfork calling it, among other things, simply an “enthralling album”.
Marissa Nadler has currently just finished her third official full length record, Songs III: Bird on the Water, which will be released worldwide February 12th, 2007. She will be touring extensively throughout the spring and summer of 2007 in support of her new record.