Marissa Nadler
Credit: Nick Fancher

As the world literally burns, it’s a comfort to see performers we hold dear come back through town to offer musical relief. Singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler debuted in 2004 with the album Ballads of Living and Dying, establishing the template for her delicately ominous, reverb-shrouded fables of loss and mortality. She’s since come out of the shadows a bit (and dialed back the reverb), and her latest LP, The Path of the Clouds (released on longtime label Sacred Bones last October), displays the persistence of her vision alongside her hard-won musical evolution. Nadler recorded the basic tracks at home and then sent them to some heavy contributors, including experimental harpist Mary Lattimore, bassist Simon Raymonde (formerly of beyond-legendary dream weavers the Cocteau Twins and currently head of the Bella Union label), Black Mountain vocalist Amber Webber, and multi-instrumentalist Milky Burgess.

Nadler is playing songs off the record on this tour, and I especially hope to hear the psychedelic shoegaze of the title track. The murder ballad “Bessie, Did You Make It?” colors her luscious, double-tracked voice with subtle flourishes of piano and other adornments, and she empowers the female character—an all-too-rare thing in that songwriting tradition. Also on my dream set list would be the bewitching gothic Americana of “From Vapor to Stardust,” which shares the distinctive melancholy of Townes Van Zandt (Nadler is a huge fan, and covered him this year on the Neurot Recordings compilation album Songs of Townes Van Zandt Vol. III). 

At the Empty Bottle, Nadler will be accompanied by Burgess and another multi-instrumentalist, Don McGreevy, who’s also played with doom-drone trailblazers Earth. When I reached out to her about this show, she also promised to include tunes from 2014’s July and 2018’s For My Crimes as well as a few surprise covers. “It’s going to be surreal to perform again at all after so long,” she said—and I for one vote for more of that kind of surreality in 2022, rather than the freakish and horrifying variety we’ve been getting. I’ll be at this gig front and center, escaping into Nadler’s beautiful darkness while rockin’ a black KN95—’cause that’s how this closet goth safely rolls.

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Marissa Nadler Squirrel Flower opens. Fri 8/5, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $15, 21+