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Friday, April 17, 2009

The ghostly and enchanting Marissa Nadler

Posted By on 04.17.09 at 01:36 PM

With her fourth album, Little Hells (Kemado), Marissa Nadler has left behind most traces of her psych-folk beginnings, settling deeper into her own spooky, narcotic strain of singer-songwriter weirdness, which she's been cultivating over the past few years.

Her angelic voice glides through her slow-moving songs like a ghost, a sweet, gauzy presence cut from an altogether different cloth than the laconic guitar figures that swirl beneath. Her style reminds me of the druggy incantations of Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval, except her timbre isn't as low and smoky. There are times when I'd like to hear her really belt one out, but even on a song like the uncharacteristically drum-heavy "Mary Come Alive," Nadler's reverb-draped singing is weightlessly ethereal. Thankfully her haunting melodies seem custom-made for this approach, and she can get away with sticking to it so consistently because there's variety elsewhere in the music: her songwriting approach is respectably diverse, and Chris Coady, who produced the new album, follows the trail of predecessor Greg Weeks by helping Nadler mix it up with the arrangements.

Nadler opens for the Handsome Family on Saturday and Sunday nights at Schubas.

Today's playlist:

Sacros, Sacros (Shadoks Music)
Jorge Ben, Alô Alô, Como Vai? (Discmedi)
Peter Brötzmann & Peeter Uuskyla, Born Broke (Atavistic)
Linus Lindblom, The Lines (Hoob Jazz)
Arabian Prince, Innovative Life: The Anthology, 1984-1989 (Stones Throw)

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