It’s been said that American society is turning back towards an artisan lifestyle. No longer will the marketplace require us all to be Renaissance men (and women) as it has for the past 30 years; specialists, experts, and craftspeople will reign supreme. Combine this tide-turning with the rapid decline of corporate backing for new artists, and it seems the path is finally clearing for the new musicians’ business model: handcrafted, personal, and very DIY.
This is a landscape where an indie songstress like Marissa Nadler can flourish. Listening to Ms. Nadler – or following any of her social networking – is to feel as if you know her, which is exactly the kind of magic formula needed to survive today’s tricky musical landscape. Her music is chimerical, yet intimate, and the majority of her artistic and marketing output is homespun. Her latest release, The Sister, features some of her lovely signature visual art and plenty of otherworldly sonic explorations.
Some musicians with a similarly contiguous approach speak from the heart (or the groin) – Ms. Nadler, it seems, speaks from the astral neighborhood of her unconscious. The Sister is true, unadulterated dreampop, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the heyday of Hope Sandoval or the Innocence Mission. Each song is like a little fairy tale, sung softly by the woodland nymph-embodiment of Emmylou Harris. “Constantine” is perhaps the best of these stories, with a Velvet Underground & Nico feel gone airy and delicate.
Marissa Nadler is an excellent example of the magic formula every musician is searching for: careful, deliberate craftsmanship that is beautiful, but more importantly, accessible. She is the sound of Generation Etsy.