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Ballads of Living and Dying

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Raised in rural Massachusetts, Marissa Nadler evokes a deep, rich countryside with her straightforward acoustic folk music. Ballads of Living and Dying is her 2004 debut album and it’s a beaut. From the first strums of “Fifty Five Falls,” Nadler establishes herself as a modern-day Judy Collins. Whatever she lacks in Collins’ forthright clarity, she makes up for with a mystical aura and melodies that get under your skin. Tracks such as “Underwater,” the near wordless “Mayflower May,” the banjo-led “Days of Rum” create a world of intrigue, where it’s impossible to figure the time and place of these recordings. “Virginia” has a deep rowing motion that sounds nearly impossible for a young woman of just 23 years to attain. Ballads is an overlooked piece of sheer beauty. Unlike many of her contemporaries — such as Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart — Nadler never strays into avant-garde or freak-folk territory, preferring to play it straight. Surely, fans of Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen and Mia Doi Todd will find much to appreciate here.


Born: April 5, 1981 in Washington, D.C.

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

American singer/songwriter Marissa Nadler blends traditional folk, Gothic Americana, and dreamy pop into an original musical framework. Raised in a small town in Massachusetts, Nadler took to painting first, a passion she continues to indulge, but the love of music drove her to become a proficient guitarist and songwriter. Nadler's compositions sound otherworldly, even timeless. Her first two albums, Ballads of Living and Dying (2004, Eclipse) and The Saga of Mayflower May (2005, Eclipse) were largely...
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