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Marissa Nadler, July (Bella Union)

Marissa Nadler

Marissa Nadler


(Bella Union)

These eyebrows climb high on noticing that US alt-folkster Marissa Nadler has teamed up with producer Randall Dunn to make her sixth record. Dunn's name is more commonly associated with drone metallers like Sun O))) and Earth.

What, then, will he do with Nadler's ghostly melodies? Handle them with care, as it turns out, possibly too much so. Her vocal has new depth and there are fresh textures here and there, but not radical departures. Particularly striking is opener Drive, which comes over like wind rattling shutters at a haunted rodeo.

Dead City Emily is like the Townes Van Zandt/Kate Bush collaboration that sadly never happened. Anyone Else lashes discordant arpeggios as Nadler laments "all the years that I've held you close, you should have been anyone else I know". But elsewhere the lack of dynamism wears after a while. Whether bringing in Dunn was a bold experiment or an attempt to revitalise Nadler's sound, she remains more or less as before: spine-tingling at best, rather tiresome in large doses.

Steven Vass

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