Marissa Nadler

“The Wrecking Ball Company” – Marissa Nadler

Fingertips favorite Marissa Nadler returns with a swaying ballad sung over a mournful, triplet-based accompaniment (ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three, that is). While the music is inspired by the classic blues progression, a wonky chord slips in to keep your ears shiny; meanwhile, the rhythm is torchy and the mood spooky-gorgeous. Nadler lives in the spooky-gorgeous, with a dollop of reverb.

“The Wrecking Ball Company” both pulls you in and develops slowly. Somehow you don’t mind. It’s just guitar and voice for the first almost-minute. And then we arrive, at 0:54, at the song’s signature moment: first we get a muted gong-like cymbal roll and then Nadler hits a high C-sharp with a wordless “Oooh.” If you’re listening with the right kind of attentive inattention, your spine should tingle right about then. If not, go back and try again. Another moment of note: 1:31, when the bass and drum officially start keeping the beat you were already keeping in your head. The song right here is in an interesting place—the verse has kind of ended but then extends unexpectedly before cycling us through the introductory arpeggios again (complete with wonky chord). As the second verse starts, the simple addition of the sparse rhythm section deepens the song’s sad sway, which deepens again when we get to the second instance of the C-sharp “Oooh” (2:37), wrapped now in elusive harmony, which includes both Nadler’s own voice and that of Mike Fiore, a fellow Boston singer/songwriter, who records as Faces on Film. Fiore’s voice is blended in such a way as to add to the sound without quite registering as a male harmony. We’ll hear more from him—subtly—during the song’s lovely minute-long vocal coda, featuring a series of wordless melodies over some ghostly guitar work and slippery chord changes. I never anticipated how Radiohead-like Nadler might be able to get but here you are. Pretty sweet.

“The Wrecking Ball Company” is from an eight-song album entitled The Sister, which came out at the end of May, and serves as a subtle companion work to her self-titled album of 2011. Both albums were self-released on Nadler’s Box of Cedar label. This is Nadler’s fourth time here, having been previously in 2007, 2009, and 2011. MP3 via Spinner.