REVIEW: Marissa Nadler - "The Sister" (+ interview)

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Marissa Nadler - The Sister
Record Label - Box of Cedar
Release Date - May 29, 2012

It's no secret that Marissa Nadler is one of our favorites around here.  Not only because she writes for us, but because her music evinces momentous feelings in seemingly small packages.  Her latest release, The Sister, the second from her Box of Cedar records is no different.  Through a brisk 8 tracks and some 33 minutes, Nadler utilizes her trademarked spatial finger-picking to carve canyons with guitar and voice.   The austerity belies a well-spring of empathy within the record.  Here, we can listen to Nadler growing from one record to the next.  Though The Sister is a genial "sister" to the self-titled album from last year.  Like all sisters, there are subtle differences.  The power of Nadler's narrative voice asserts itself the strongest it ever has in this record.  A number of tracks like the tales of a blown-out rocker in "Constantine," "Apostle," and "Christine" seem to be biographical tracks drawn from Nadler's own life.  

I spoke to Marissa about this last week:

WLFY:  How has the founding of your own record label influenced how you make records now?
MN:  Well, I'm not sure I realized when I started it what it exactly entailed to get a record out and have people hear. Its been fun and challenging. The most important thing is to feel good about the work. Doing a lot of the mundane tasks take quite a bit of energy out of me, but also gives me the freedom to do what I want. So, In all honesty, its a bit of a toss up and my goal is to learn how to prioritize the creative aspect even if that means that things will maintain a smaller scale in terms of reach. I hope to license the records out of the US and my hope for Box Of Cedar is that it could be an imprint with other artists on it someday. So, I'm not exactly sure what the future brings.

WLFY:  The Sister feels more like portraiture than your other records.  How do you see it standing in contrast to your last record, the self-titled, which seemed more introspective?

MN:  I see them sitting together as a pretty unified pair. You know, I just see them as collections of songs that represent time periods of my life, and the people that were in them at the time.

WLFY:  One of the things that continues to astonish in your songwriting is how you seem to draw the listener in.   This music is subtle, sublime and needs contemplation.  What are you trying to create in your audience?

MN:  I just hope the music connects with some people. Thats really something that makes me happy- the part of the process that is about connection. Creating is a really lonely existence, and so is staying home boxing records. So, its nice to just reach out to people through the work.  I know its not everyone's cup of tea and thats ok. As I get older, I just want to meet and improve my own standards in terms of how I write songs.

WLFY:  Are there particular musicians or music genres (or books or movies, etc) that you were listening to when writing the songs/making the record?  How did they influence what came out?

MN:  Old Dirty Three records, Marilyn Robinson books, Nick Cave, Joni Mitchell, John Irving, biographies. I'm all over the map!

WLFY:  There's a strong ballad strain in a number of the songs here as in your other work -- how do you see folk music, with its eye turned a bit to the past, working these days?

MN:  You know I have to say I just don't think about genres. Maybe I should since I might be putting myself in one by choosing to consistently play the acoustic guitar as opposed to the electric. It's what I like and what I feel the most comfortable playing.

It shouldn't be surprising that Nadler refers to family, friends, and comfort with regard to this record.  One of the joys of listening to her is that everything feels so homespun.  Whether it be her etsy shop, label, or record you know that you're getting something directly from the artist.  While we live in this age of "direct access" where people will tweet back at you, there remains a cool distance as everything sounds like PR moves or instigation.  Nadler's handcrafted music is the exact opposite.  Glitteringly personal, her records appear again and again as a gift from her to us.

Buy the record here.

1 comment:

  1. It' always been good that music and film goes together although not all but film wouldn't do without music. This popped to my mind when I visited tim jones, Spokane.