Marissa Nadler

Marissa Nadler


Haunting. Marissa Nadler is haunting Soup Kitchen tonight. She cuts a lonely figure in the dark basement of the shabby-indie-chic bar that is Soup Kitchen. When she first appears, she provides the sense of loss we have come to know from her, it is so wholly felt throughout the underground room, that even as her band joins her, their arrangement alongside her sets a tone that truly complements her intensity and grief completely. How should we believe Nadler to be; strong but tortured; free but grief stricken, she will always be the same, and that is her mysterious beauty.

Keeping us all wistfully in mourning for more than ten years, the American singer-songwriter recently released her seventh studio album Strangers to much acclaim, that has seen her mature from lamenting in solo fashion, to giving her songs a much needed update and showcasing them in a more three-dimensional world, with a band that can represent the complex emotions; the ups-and-downs, the rise and fall of all feelings. Her latest offering moves from divulging her own personal feelings to revealing those of others; it is a record of ‘Strangers’ of which the title suggests.

Performing tonight a mixture of the new songs with the old, there is an exhibition of the exposed subtle, unsettling gloom mixed with the extravagant, consoling gloom. Rather than being directly personal, Nadler has directed her focus on the pain and sorrow felt by others, much like an acceptance of the capability of other people feeling similar miseries as she herself has felt. With it there’s more of an element of storytelling of characters, that is conducive to voyeurism. Rather than being the observed, the one revealing her own intimate secrets, Nadler has become the raconteur of other people’s intimate secrets.

For me, as much as the band provides more depth to her songs that still pluck the heartstrings and send tremors through the soul, it doesn’t feel like enough of a development from those previous offerings. Maybe all in good time, so tonight should be about the appreciation that possibly there is progression. Where maybe her next arrival at Soup Kitchen would see Nadler having evolved from pain to believing in hopefulness. As for the present moment, the small gathering is appreciative of Nadler, often fragile but wholly immersive in her music. The sense of some small change from her previous albums is something that we are all attuned to, but there is more to hope for; that she will break completely from the mould that she’s created for herself. For now though, this is enough. Her beautiful vocals keep us engaged to the very end, and as we leave we are left with a new sense of belief in the allure of darkness.

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Danielle Kenneally

Silent Radio Digital News Editor. Silent Radio Newsletter Editor. Silent Radio Reviewer.