First Listen: Marissa Nadler, 'July'

Jan 26, 2014
Originally published on February 4, 2014 10:23 am

On her sixth album, Boston-born singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler gets darker than ever before: Its title must refer to a cold, polarizing kind of July, with the frigid climes that accompany an early-February release. Recorded at Seattle's Avast Studio by heavy music overlord Randall Dunn — his credits include Earth, Sunn O))) and Wolves in the Throne Room — the album features "Dead City Emily," which, complete with Nadler's gothic choreography in the video, confirms just how sinister she's rendered herself.

Gone is the lithe, limber-voiced ingénue of last year's "Wedding," and in her place lies Nadler's blackest-ever-black album. New songs like "Was It a Dream" and "Desire" benefit from darker hired guns: Eyvind Kang's strings, Steve Moore's synths and the guitars of Phil Wandscher lend emotional heft and existential dread to these 11 phantasmagoric love songs. (If you're still wondering about that seemingly ironic album title, it all starts some two years ago with an Independence Day breakup, as per "Fireworks.")

Whereas Marissa Nadler's self-titled Kickstarter disc found her likened to Sharon Van Etten, consider her more of a Jarboe here. She wears her new charcoal glossolalia well.

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