Marisa Anderson has been touring extensively in recent years, and anyone who’s been lucky enough to see her perform will know her to be a masterful electric guitar soloist, steeped in blues, gospel and folk traditions. She’s a distinctive interpreter, and here shows fresh and unpredictable takes on songs that are about as familiar and iconic as they come - Amazing Grace, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and Will the Circle Be Unbroken among others. Welcome Mississippi reissue of an out-of-print Grapefruit LP from 2013.
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This one’s described by its press release as having an “idiotically” small initial pressing, and I can see why: Grapefruit didn’t anticipate just how many people this lovely record of guitar spindling would appeal to. Marisa Anderson’s singular folk music has existed in many different hues over the years, but her instrumentals here are amplified, sending up a dusty, dirtbike aura for her melodic and plaintive sound.
On ‘Traditional and Public Domain Songs’, Anderson uses her desert sound to create a new type of personal folk song: her picking sounds searching and desperate, in search of a redemptive oasis on the beautiful but doomy “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning” and full of ominous clamour on “Pretty Polly”. Recalling the more songlike characteristics of a fuzzy Natural Snow Buildings record, along with the solo psychedelics of Michio Kurihara, she creates one of those records whose world is familiar and fretful.
In the spirit of both honouring and mutating the traditional, she offers anthemic and timeworn guitar work: the delaying fuzz of “Hard Times Come Again No More” gives a subtle grit to a song that feels like a paean as old as time. A truly special one in her catalogue -- and a nice, simple intro for newcomers.
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- Traditional and Public Domain Songs by Marisa Anderson
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