By: Karl-Erik Stromsta
Nipping at the ankles of the new calendar year comes the achingly beautiful new album from 26-year-old dream folk chanteuse Marissa Nadler - the sonic equivalent of an hour spent staring deep into a campfire.
Bird on the Water (Kemado), the third studio effort from the New York-based Nadler, is filled with lonely, romantic music, like an angel singing lullabies in a graveyard. Nadler's thin, melancholy voice - often drenched in chilly reverb - is reminiscent of Norah Jones, while her whimsical, nursery rhyme lyrics are kissing cousins with Charlotte Gainsbourg's work. Among her constellation of musical gifts, perhaps none shines as keenly as Nadler's ability to turn what should be a playful, inconsequential folk tune into an emotional powerhouse, hung heavy with fang-like icicles of pathos and longing.
Despite Nadler's insistence on crafting crooked, maundering melodies that refuse to go where they are meant to, nearly all the album's best songs - including the timeless "Diamond Heart" and "Mexican Summer" - manage to feel intimately familiar from the first kittenish guitar strums. Make no mistake, Bird on the Water is a sad album. But, it is sadness tempered with mirth that smiles through graceful tears. It is filled with loneliness, but never desolation; uncomfortable memories, but never regret.
JamBase | NYC
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