Album of the Day: Marisa Anderson, “Cloud Corner”
By Robert Ham · June 21, 2018 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP

In recent years, guitarist Marisa Anderson has written and recorded music with a specific framework in mind. On 2013’s Traditional and Public Domain Songs, the Portland-based artist explored folk music history through takes on vintage tunes like “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.” Two years ago, she released Into The Light, her soundtrack to an imaginary sci-fi western. Anderson seemed to thrive with these self-imposed boundaries, resulting in textured and often stirring work.

For her sixth full-length Cloud Corner, Anderson removes any and all restrictions, and soars even higher as a result. The 10 original compositions are a sundry mix of mood and styles, where the vertiginous blending of multiple guitar lines on “Slow Ascent” fits perfectly between the minimalist skronk of “Angel’s Rest” and the reverb-heavy ramble of album opener “Pulse.” Anderson also opens her process to some additional instrumentation, like the quiet electric piano that makes its presence known on the stinging ballad “Lament.” That piano bobs up again on the album’s closing song “Lift,” joined by a steady pattern played on a requinto jarocho, a guitar-shaped instrument originating from Mexico.

Those little inclusions may not seem monumental. But for Anderson, whose domain has typically remained in the finger-picked guitars and lap steel, her decision to bring in new timbres and details into her sound is the mark of an artist who knows that unless she pushes herself to evolve, her work will surely stagnate and molder. In spite of the barren trees on the cover of Cloud Corner, her music continues to flourish and blossom.

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