It must royally suck to constantly receive Hope Sandoval comparisons over the course of your five albums since 2004. Yet after last year’s mega disappointing Mazzy Star release (yep), it feels like Marissa Nadler’s persistence has given rise to a suite of her own. In an age when every hot chick who figures out they can sing learns three chords on the guitar, puts on a hippie headband, name drops VU in an interview, then goes on tour supporting the Brian Jonestown Massacre ——— on this sixth studio effort, July, Marissa strengthens her title as folk veteran in the current scene. One may have also observed when she played Mono awhile back, traveling on tour mostly alone– her shy persona, knocking back whiskey after whiskey prior to her gig, then ten more afterwards just to overcome her introversion. That alone made us fall in love.
Again, it’s easy to quickly pass up this record in a sea of overabundant hipster singer-songwriters. Nor am I a fan of aimless G-D-Am combos with mediocre feel-good lyrics. Like the lower moments on this album, “1923”`s overuse of the word, “Baby” and overly familiar sounding chord progression; or in “Holiday In”, which steers a bit into Lilith Fair territory.
Overall, the album’s a grower, with most of the meat packed in the middle. Both “Drive” and “Dead City Emily” has a satiny storytelling flow and six-string jangle. Truly beautiful opening line to the latter, “I was coming apart those days / I don´t give a damn about the way / Colors on the trees change from red to green / Its a dead city Emily“. The album has significantly less complex finger-picking antics as in prior albums Ballands of Living and Diving or Songs III, and instead relies mostly on vocal harmonies and choruses. At the same time, is what makes melodies less predictable, confident, and stand out.
My favorite track is, “We are Coming Back”, with her mastery of all that’s dark and haunting. Her minor notes, bluesy meanderings on “Nothing in My Heart” makes strong finish to the album. The lyrics are sweet, innocent and infectious, “And I promise to put Honey in your jar / Maybe its the weather / But I got nothing in my heart“. I say, if you let your guard down and let Marissa do her magic, the effect is almost as powerful is the first time you heard So Tonight That I Might See.
Watch her perform her new songs on KEXP. I got goosebumps.