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Marissa Nadler - Ballads of Living and Dying

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Artist: Marissa Nadler

Album: Ballads of Living and Dying

Label: Eclipse

Review date: Feb. 21, 2005

Impeccably recorded and accompanied by Myles Baer, Marissa Nadler, with voice and finger, crafts beautifully ghostlike compositions with a preternatural ease. To say that there’s not one throwaway among the ten “ballads” on Living and Dying is to say much. Each piece, whether lightly disseminated, or plied in a deliberately witchy manner, is totally enthralling, either by way of Nadler’s milky voice or ebullient finger picking. And it’s really these two facets that stay in the forefront.

Nadler’s voice, redolent of an early Stevie Nicks cum Hope Sandoval, moves from deeply staid to stickily rapturous – often within the confines of the same piece. And Nadler’s guitar works in similar extremes, with a hat off to Roy Harper and a nembutal’d nod to the most agreeable side of Mr. Donovan Leitch.

The whole of Living, especially the tracks “Fifty Five Falls,” and “Mayflower May,” show Nadler to be somewhat of an anomaly: This record sounds like something to be slated for future reissue on Italy’s psych imprint Akarma, not released in the 21st century.

Whether it’s the womby reverb of Nadler’s voice, or the solid expertise of her – and her accompanist’s – instrumental prowess, this is a record for repetitive listens and dark contemplation.

By Stewart Voegtlin

Other Reviews of Marissa Nadler

The Saga of Mayflower May

Songs III: Bird on the Water

Little Hells

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The Sister

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