Marissa Nadler Little Hells

Marissa Nadler Little Hells
Marissa Nadler is not "freak folk"; it's loathsome term that implies some kind of loopy hippy that's disconnected from the world and just floating along with their singular musical vision — i.e., a "freak." With the incredible Little Hells, Nadler has proven the opposite because here she is in total control of her vision, as this is one of the most devastating and achingly beautiful albums of the year. "Heart Paper Lover" starts with Nadler's evocative voice bending to the sparse accompanying keys, setting the mood perfectly for the soaring "Rosary." Yet Nadler doesn't wallow, lifting "Mary Come Alive" and "River of Dirt" with a brisk pace that veers towards pop. The best song on an album of great songs is easily closer "Mistress," which accomplishes the amazing feat of making one believe she's singing about something so personal and intimate that it emanates a magnetic pull. With a big, lush vision that moves beyond the trappings of folk, Nadler isn't working on the fringes of the genre but has completely transcended it. (Kemado)