Marissa Nadler

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Marissa Nadler
Marissa Nadler
Marissa Nadler in 2011
Background information
Born (1981-04-05) April 5, 1981 (age 35)
Washington D.C., United States
Origin Massachusetts, United States
Genres Folk, indie rock, dream pop, ambient
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician, painter
Instruments Guitar, piano, keyboards, banjo
Years active 2000–present
Labels Sacred Bones, Bella Union, Box of Cedar, Kemado, Eclipse
Associated acts Father John Misty, Randall Dunn, Angel Olsen, Xasthur

Marissa Rachael Nadler (born April 5, 1981)[1] is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist and painter based in Boston, Massachusetts. Active since 2000, she has released a number of studio albums. She is currently signed to Sacred Bones Records and Bella Union, and released her sixth full-length studio album July in early February 2014.[2]

Early life[edit]

Marissa Nadler was born and raised in Massachusetts. She was exposed to art at a young age through her mother Pamela, an abstract painter, and her older brother Stuart, a writer who also played guitar.[3] As a teenager, she taught herself to play guitar in a style similar to fingerpicking, playing a steady bass pattern with the thumb and filling out syncopated rhythms with the index finger.[4] It was described as having an "unorthodox, dusky sound".[3] Also in her teens she began to write songs as a hobby.[3]

She studied painting at Rhode Island School of Design, where she obtained a bachelor's degree in illustration in 2003, and a master's degree a year later.[5][6] During her studies, she began to perform at open mic events around Providence. After graduating, Nadler worked as an art teacher in Harlem, New York for a short time.[4] While exploring artistic techniques such as illustration, painting, bookbinding, woodcarving and encaustic painting she also honed her songwriting craft.[4] She subsequently recorded an album titled Autumn Rose (2002) as well as the four-track EP Somber Ghost Recordings (2003), neither of which have ever been released.[7]

Music career[edit]

2004–2010: First releases[edit]

Nadler released her first official album, Ballads of Living and Dying, on Eclipse Records in January 2004.[8] The follow-up The Saga of Mayflower May was released in July 2005.[3] Both records were distributed in the United States by Eclipse Records, and by the UK label Beautiful Happiness in Europe.[9]

Nadler released her third record, Songs III: Bird on the Water, on Peacefrog Records in Europe on March 12, 2007. The album was released in the US and Canada on August 12, 2007 by Kemado Records.[10] It was nominated for two PLUG Awards in 2008: "Best Female Artist of the Year" and "Best Americana Record of the Year." Nadler also won "Outstanding Singer-Songwriter of the Year" at the 2008 Boston Music Awards, with three nominations altogether.[citation needed]

Her fourth full-length record, Little Hells, was released March 3, 2009.[11] receiving praise from many critics.[12] including four-star reviews from magazines such as Mojo, Rolling Stone in France and Germany, Uncut Magazine, and Q Magazine. It received an 8.3 from Pitchfork.[13] The album departed from the earlier folk-based template with the introduction of electronic elements.[3] In early 2010, she contributed backing vocals to Portal of Sorrow, the final album by black metal project Xasthur.[14]

2011–2012: Marissa Nadler and The Sister[edit]

On June 14, 2011, an eponymous record was released worldwide on Nadler's own label, Box of Cedar Records.[15] The song "Baby, I Will Leave You in the Morning" was released as a free download on March 8, followed by a subsequent music video.[16] The album was positively received by Pitchfork, which gave it 8.1/10,[17] and it was called "a stellar collection of sullen melodies and lovelorn anecdotes akin to those of Joni Mitchell."[18]

On May 29, 2012, she released The Sister, a short eight-song "companion" album to Marissa Nadler.[19] The album was dubbed by Paste Magazine an "impressive concoction of stark minimalism."[18] In this period, Nadler briefly returned to part-time teaching special needs children in the Boston area, explaining that she wanted "to keep busy and help people with my time".[3]

In November 2012, Nadler collaborated with Angel Olsen on two cover songs that were shared on Nadler's Soundcloud page: the Richard and Linda Thompson song "My Dreams Have Withered and Died" and the Mickey Newbury song "Frisco Depot".[20]

2013–2014: Sacred Bones Records and July[edit]

"July is moon music, quiet music, slurp-merlot-in-the-fetal-position music, a slow-burning tapestry of goth-folk torch songs and woozy-pop incantations about love and loss and memory, whispered by the same spirits as Julee Cruise's airy Twin Peaks vocals."

In 2013,[22] she signed to Brooklyn-based Sacred Bones Records.[23] Her album July was released by the label on February 4, 2014[24] and on February 10 by Bella Union in the UK.[2] It was recorded at Seattle's Avast Studios,[25] and produced by collaborator Randall Dunn.[26] The first single from the album, "Dead City Emily," was released in November 2013[22] and positively received by Stereogum as an "ethereal spine-tingler"[27] and by Brooklyn Vegan as "a track as haunting and delicate as any of her best tracks to date."[22] July debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard Folk Albums chart and No. 14 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Albums chart.[28][29]

July received mostly positive feedback from music critics. At Metacritic it received "universal acclaim,"[30] and July received an exact score of 4/5 from the majority of music publications, among them NME,[31] Drowned in Sound,[32] Blurt Magazine,[33] and Pop Matters,[34] In a positive review Pop Matters called the album a "triumph" and "one of 2014's best albums so far,"[34] while SPIN called it a "masterfully composed release".[21] About the atmosphere of the album, Vice Media's Noisey website wrote that "the darkly lit July is a moody trip through heat spells and night drives... Nadler's quiet songwriting and ethereal sound give July a sound that's, at times, almost sinister. "[35] Steven Rosen of Blurt Magazine wrote that Nadler manages to achieve an "almost-hallucinatory effect out of her singing, often multi-tracking the voice to create a ghostly pillowing effect."[33]

In July 2014, Nadler collaborated with Father John Misty, releasing a split 7" on Bella Union.[36] Father John Misty covered Nadler's "Drive", while Nadler covered "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings."[37]

2015–2016: Strangers[edit]

On February 23, 2016, Nadler announced that her next album, Strangers, recorded with producer Dunn in 2015, was set for release on May 20 on Sacred Bones/Bella Union.[38]

Musical style[edit]

Singing in a mezzo-soprano, the foundation of her songs is her acoustic guitar, often accompanied by a variety of instruments and ambient, reverb-laden production. She has been known to play in open tunings on several songs. Her influences include Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush and Townes Van Zandt. In an interview with What Weekly magazine, she said of Van Zandt: "He’s one of my favorite songwriters. I’m really glad that posthumously he’s getting the recognition that he deserved during his lifetime."[39]

Nadler has received acclaim for her vocals. Her voice was described by Pitchfork as one "you would follow straight into Hades", and also "textured and angelic, with just a hint of pain captured within her iridescent falsetto."[18] The Boston Globe said, "She has a voice that, in mythological times, could have lured men to their deaths at sea, an intoxicating soprano drenched in gauzy reverb that hits bell-clear heights, lingers, and tapers off like rings of smoke. Hardly anyone considers Nadler a folk musician."[4]

Lyrically, her first records were inspired by "my first real love and heartbreak. I was a late bloomer so I didn't date much before that first significant relationship. That heartbreak was like water to a plant for my songwriting. I hate to say it was one of the times where I was feeling the most manic and the most inspired".[3]


Studio albums[edit]

Self-released albums[edit]

  • Four-Track Recordings, Outtakes (2005)
  • Ivy and the Clovers (2007)
  • Little Hells: Acoustic Demos (2010)
  • Various Covers Over the Years (2010)
  • Covers Volume II (2011)
  • S/T Demos (2012)


  • The Sister (2012, Box of Cedar Records)
  • Before July: Demos and Unreleased Songs (2014, Box of Cedar Records)


Guest appearances[edit]

  • Carter Tanton - "Jettison the Valley" from Jettison the Valley (2016, Western Vinyl)
  • Ben Watt - "New Year of Grace" from Fever Dream (2016, Unmade Road)
  • Lushlife + CSLSX - "Integration Loop" from Ritualize (2016, Western Vinyl)

Compilation appearances[edit]

The following is an incomplete list of compilation albums that include tracks by Nadler.

  • "Ballad to an Amber Lady" on For the Dead in Space – Volumes II & III (2003, Secret Eye Records)
  • "Ms John Lee" on New Skin for the Old Ceremony: The Polyamory Nine Year Anniversary Compilation (2005, Polyamory)
  • "Your Dreary Days Are Dead" on Talitres Is 5 (2006, Talitres Records)
  • "Judgement Day" on Not Alone (2006, Durtro/Jnana Records)
  • "Clowne Towne" on Remixed & Covered (2007, 5 Rue Christine)
  • "No Surprises" on Reprises Inrocks (2008, Les Inrockuptibles)
  • "Lonesome" on Brainwaves 2008 (2008, Brainwashed Recordings)
  • "The Kiss" on Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill (2009, American Dust)
  • "All My Trials" on Beautiful Star: The Songs of Odetta (2009, Wears The Trousers Records)
  • "Famous Blue Raincoat" on Cohen Revisited (A Tribute to Leonard Cohen) (2009, Les Inrockuptibles)
  • "Daisy, Where Did You Go?" on Yuletide (2010, Disco Naïveté)
  • "Dead Birds in Arkansaw" on Music & Migration II (2011, Second Language)
  • "The Killing Moon" on Free Music Impulse (2011, Hybryda)
  • "The Breaking" on For Lee Jackson in Space (2012, no label)
  • "You've Got It All Wrong" on For Tom Carter (2013, Deserted Village)
  • "Half as Much" on You Be My Heart (2013, Devon Reed)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marissa Nadler, Oxford Reference. Retrieved 27 May 2016
  2. ^ a b Minsker, Evan (November 11, 2013). "Marissa Nadler Announces New Album July, Shares "Dead City Emily"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Popmatters interview" Erin Lyndal Martin, 'Alabaster Queen: An Interview with Marissa Nadler', Pop Matters', May 29, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d Reed, James (September 15, 2006). "Through music, she builds her own myth". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  5. ^ Linkedin entry
  6. ^ Portfolio on the RSID website showcasing her artwork
  7. ^ 'Alarm interview' Lauren Zens, 'Q&A: Marissa Nadler', Alarm, August 25, 2011
  8. ^ Marissa Nadler at AllMusic, Ballads of Living and Dying
  9. ^ Marissa Nadler at AllMusic, The Saga of Mayflower May
  10. ^ Marissa Nadler at AllMusic, Songs III: Bird on the Water
  11. ^ Kourtesis, Danielle (February 20, 2009). "Marissa Nadler's Haunting Little Hells". Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  12. ^ Sinclair, Scott (March 20, 2009). "Marissa Nadler • Little Hells". Wears the Trousers. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  13. ^ Currin, Grayson (2009). "Little Hells Album Review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  14. ^ "Xasthur and Marissa Nadler Collaborate on New Album". Pitchfork. 
  15. ^ "Marissa Nadler announces new release on her label Box of Cedar Records". Band Weblogs. March 28, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  16. ^ "Marissa Nadler's new video " Staff Blog". Sputnikmusic. May 13, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  17. ^ "Marissa Nadler Album Review". Pitchfork Media. 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  18. ^ a b c "Marissa Nadler: The Sister". May 30, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  19. ^ Pelly, Jenn (January 25, 2012). "Marissa Nadler Announces New Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  20. ^ "Marissa Nadler / Angel Olsen". Pitchfork. 
  21. ^ a b "The Best Overlooked Albums of 2014 So Fa". SPIN. 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-22. 
  22. ^ a b c Sacher, Andrew (2013). "Marissa Nadler releasing new LP on Sacred Bones, appearing on new Emily Jane White LP, playing Rough Trade". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  23. ^ "Case Studies – This Is Another Life". Sacred Bones Records. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  24. ^ "Marissa Nadler's July to arrive via Sacred Bones in February". Timothy (Ander). November 12, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  25. ^ Dahlberg, Chris (November 11, 2013). "Marissa Nadler Announces New Album on Sacred Bones/Bella Union". CosmoGaming. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  26. ^ "Red Bull Music Academy". 
  27. ^ DeVille, Chris (November 11, 2013). "Marissa Nadler – "Dead City Emily"". Stereogum. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  28. ^ "Marissa Nadler – Chart history : Billboard". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 
  29. ^ "Marissa Nadler – Chart history : Billboard". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 
  30. ^ Metacritic. "Critic Reviews for July". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  31. ^ Gardner, Noel (February 7, 2014). "Album Reviews". Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  32. ^ Lukowski, Andrzej (March 5, 2014). "Marissa Nadler – July". Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  33. ^ a b Rosen, Steven. "Marissa Nadler – July". Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  34. ^ a b Korber, Kevin (February 20, 2014). "Marissa Nadler: July". Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  35. ^ White, Caitlin (January 21, 2014). "See Marissa Nadler's New Video for "Dead City Emily" and Read Our Extensive Interview". Noisey. Retrieved 2014-11-22. 
  36. ^ bellaunion. "Father John Misty / Marissa Nadler split 7". bellaunion. 
  37. ^ Luke Morgan Britton (July 11, 2014). "Father John Misty and Marissa Nadler cover each other for split 7" – The Line of Best Fit". The Line of Best Fit. 
  38. ^ Monroe, Jazz (February 23, 2016). "Marissa Nadler Announces New Album Strangers, Shares "Janie in Love"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 14, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Interview :: Marissa Nadler". What Weekly Magazine. 

External links[edit]