Review: Marissa Nadler’s The Sister

Marissa Nadler: The Sister

Marissa Nadler: The Sister (Box of Cedar, 5/29/12)

“The Wrecking Ball Company”

[audio:|titles=Marissa Nadler: “The Wrecking Ball Company”]

Last year, Boston-based singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler released an album that oozed with sad-stringed lamentations and haunting folk dreamscapes. The self-titled release solidified Nadler’s brand of elegant and convoluted spook-folk. Each track let listeners delve a little deeper into her mysterious songwriting realm: part fairy tale, part dirge, part diary entry. The album was readily equipped with intricate acoustic finger-picking, sonorous harmonies, and melancholic modishness. More importantly, though, it established Nadler’s voice as a dominant force in indie folk, giving her a leg up on many of her peers.

This year, Nadler is right back in it with a companion mini-LP, appropriately titled The Sister. The eight-song album fits seamlessly with last year’s delicate yet direct sentiments and sorrowful songwriting. Instead of the songs feeling like a collection of B-sides or leftovers, The Sister reestablishes everything its predecessor already has confirmed — that Nadler is capable of hanging with anyone on the scene in terms of songwriting bent on sophistication and pathos.

As with all of Nadler’s work, this album is at its best when it’s at its most lonesome. “Constantine” is a forlorn tale of faded glory featuring a beautiful vocal duet; “Love Again, There is a Fire” showcases a malaise-ridden piano melody flanked by haunting vocals; and “The Apostle” relies on the crisp finger-picking and ghostlike incantations that all but swallow the song whole at the end. But though Nadler’s songs are so entrenched in the melancholy and atmospheric, there is nothing here worth losing sleep over. Because her sadness really is her strength, The Sister further proves that Nadler is perfect at what she does — finding the joy in sorrow, and capturing that sound through voice and string.

3 thoughts on “Review: Marissa Nadler’s The Sister”

Leave a Comment