The last track on Marissa Nadler’s self-titled album is written from the perspective of Violet Hilton in the hours between the death of her conjoined twin, Daisy, and her own. The twins, who died within a few days of one another in 1962, were joined at the lower spine and shared blood circulation but no organs—they were, as the title of a 1954 film they starred in suggested, “chained for life.” And chained for death, as Nadler points out in “Daisy, Where Did You Go?”
It makes sense that Nadler would devote a song to the twins, as much of her album belies a fascination with the hauntingly intriguing, the tragic and the departed. Marissa Nadler is a record about leaving, waiting and hopefully returning—but mostly about waiting, lying on the drafty hallway floor near a heater and dwelling on your “phantom limbs” as you wait to die in the absence of your second half.
Nadler has always displayed a taste for storytelling in her music, but in most songs, Nadler’s characters mourn the departure of a lover rather than the death of a conjoined sister. However, she describes the experience of waiting and the enslavement of being connected to someone else throughout the album. Using an array of instruments to accompany her usual finger-picked guitar licks and morbidly engrossing vocals, Nadler embeds vivid lyrical imagery into rich, elegant and morose soundscapes.
While Marissa Nadler is more musically complex than earlier records, she maintains her overall aesthetic, both bucolic and tragic. She blends dreamy country-folk guitar parts like in “The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You” with the wispy reverb of her voice on “Alabaster Queen” and melancholy subject matter of tracks like “Little King” and “Baby, I Will Leave You In The Morning” to evolve her existing sound.
Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, Nadler was able to self-produce her album on her label Box Of Cedar, and the extra funds she received from her fundraising efforts have allowed her to record add an upcoming EP to the label’s list.