MARISSA NADLER: New Faces 09

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Some artists are just too hard to pin down. Bunching Marissa Nadler in with the ill-defined “freak folk” scene, or likening her fragile acoustics to some ’60s psychedelic throwback, seems all too easy. Even now with her fourth album, Little Hells, Nadler seems to elude any clear tag. Whether it’s her haunting voice and elegiac balladry, or a musical sense that evokes centuries-old folk fables, is difficult to say.


















Some artists are just too hard to pin down. Bunching Marissa Nadler in with the ill-defined “freak folk” scene, or likening her fragile acoustics to some ’60s psychedelic throwback, seems all too easy. Even now with her fourth album, Little Hells, Nadler seems to elude any clear tag. Whether it’s her haunting voice and elegiac balladry, or a musical sense that evokes centuries-old folk fables, is difficult to say.

Whatever alien bone Nadler may have been given to elicit such intangible responses, it’s clear that Little Hells only makes them all the more poignant. Nadler’s resonant vocals and muted production lend her sound a dreary aura that, not unlike Beach House, revels in subtleties that reveal themselves only after incessant listens. Couched in syncopated finger-pickings fleshed out with pale synths, Little Hells is at once authentically American and entirely relevant, yet drenched in an eerie mysticism with each passing note. To offer a crude analogy, it’s as if Vashti Bunyan became a traveling bard and called on a young Leonard Cohen to tell the tale. Simply put, Marissa Nadler both broadens the scope of indie folk and taps unflinchingly into its timeworn heart.


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