There are two widely cut still hereAnd the Marisa AndersonLatest album of musical instruments guitar. Half of the album is made up of traditional songs, so to speak, although they don’t have lyrics. The likes of “Waking” and “The Crack Where The Light Gets In” is compact and thoughtful, with clear paths of melody and form. Some rejoice, others grieve; Their common denominator lies not in any single emotional content but in the sense of purposeful movement. The other pieces are more like exploratory missions, not out of the promise of a destination, but instead out of seeing and hearing what’s out there. They are more emotional than dangerous. Setting scenes rather than planning sessions. Listening to “The Low Country” or “Night Air,” you get the feeling that Anderson is formulating her thoughts as she records, experimenting with phrases and then refining or setting them aside.
As in previous versions, Anderson uses a wide range of styles and instruments with which to perform: layers of electric, acoustic, and pedal steel guitars; Mixing steel and nylon threads. And multiply many pieces for piano and electronic keyboards. The choice of her alternate fingers reminds us of Piedmont blues and Spanish flamenco. “In Dark Water”, the startling opening, gradually expands and contracts arpeggios calling the first music Philip Glassand the occasional intrusions of a rough sliding guitar that sound more like Mississippi Fred McDowell. Although the album’s predominant influences are from folk and classical music, “The Crack Where the Light Gets In” gives way to sunny California pop music of the 1960s. Each track has its own vocal identity, but the album isn’t polychromatic, in large part due to Anderson’s distinctive tone as a player, which shines through no matter the instrument or setting. It spells every note in precise order, knows when to dig in and when to back off, and never uses more force than you need. Even the simplest of strings, in her hands, carried a mysterious glow.
Anderson is also a gifted composer, equally skilled in the spiky complexity of “In Dark Water” and the expansive setting of “The Crack where the Light Gates In.” This makes balance and sequence still hereThoughtful and exploratory modes are puzzling. Why, after a masterfully designed opening number, do we get three consecutive tracks that look like solitary jam sessions? “The Fire This Time,” “The Low Country,” and “Night Air” all share the same basic arrangement concept, with a guitar setting two or three chords in the ostinato while another pair of dubbed instruments trade unresolved parts of the melody above them . The three pieces are sad and meditative. Their open approach, at its best, is geared toward something unspeakable, a melancholy too big to name. Taking them all at once, near the top of the album, can be tricky. Anderson finds flashes of beauty even when she seems to be looking for something to say; If she was a less agile guitarist, this stretch might get derailed still hereMomentum fully.
The album finds its form again through the ellipsoidal “wake up” and “crack where the light enters,” which convey even in their titles a sense of stepping out of total darkness. After that warm comfort, it closes with Anderson’s musical arrangements of “La Llorona” and “Beat the Drum Slowly,” two popular songs, one Mexican and one American, both about flawed characters meeting early death and people who love them even though they’re failures. Reminds me of Anderson playing this last pair of tunes Ahmed JamalThe saying that musicians should know and feel deeply the words of any song they are playing, even in machine translations. Its clear, candid lines, and its warm and sympathetic tone, carry dignity, remorse, and the fading hope of redemption at the heart of every story. Without a word you sing.
All products featured on Pitchfork are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.