Boston-based Marissa Nadler, wicked cool singer-songwriter who ably drifts between folk, acoustic-pop and chilled-out ambiance, is all set to pull the ripcord on her sixth studio record, and her first since her 2011 eponymous effort. Entitled July, it chronicles a year in the life of Nadler, from summer to summer: "These songs are reflective of my life, and I hope they reach other lives as well," she's said of the record. Straight off the bat, we know it's going to be intensely introspective and an emotional whirligig. Well, most of what Nadler spouts towards the airwaves is like that, but this time it's tenfold.
Nadler's got a penchant for the gothic, and has been known to quote Edgar Ali-P (that's a Sacha Baron Cohen character that we all need) in her offerings. Whether or not they crop up in July is for the more scholarly to ascertain, but these efforts certainly are anything but gothic. There's the occasional dip into shadow realms, like on 'Anyone Else' with a ghostly choir in the wings, but on the whole, this is an anthology of opiate folk. It's been said by many already, but it's more like a lullaby. It's relaxing, and if you whack July on in conjunction with your head on a pillow, don't expect to return from slumberland for a solid few hours.
'1923', avec jaunty rhythmic fingerpicking and swooning '50s strings, is a resounding highlight. The atmosphere creating is golden-era silver-screen beauty. One may consider it Gatsby-esque in its romantic naiveté. Nadler's gorgeous voice yearns, almost awkwardly in agony - it's like watching a couple argue - where do you look? - but alongside the arcadian-hymn composition, it's thoroughly sublime. Prepare to get your soul shattered - have some plasters ready guys.
In all honesty, most tracks are highlights. The calibre of the record doesn't remotely slip. It's a high quality she'll find it difficult to match or surpass on further endeavours. Lo-fi folk masterpiece 'Firecrackers', bearing similarities to acoustic-country heartbreaker Torres, minus electricity, will send shivers down your vertebrae. 'Dead City Emily' touches upon Americana like Midas touches anything, piano-led 'I've Got Your Name' sounds like what you'd imagine Lana Del Rey to sound like behind the gimmicky pop-blockade. Each track's a crestfallen belter.
July is infectious. It translates well to many ears - no matter what your aural-poison is, chances are you'll find solace in Nadler's musings. You'll keep hovering over the repeat button, ready to click in an instant. It's tranquillity in sonic form, a serene pasture of coddling noise - it may not all be sugar and roses, but it's soothing. Cathartic, empathetic and maternal. It might not hold a regular place in your listening rotation, but when it comes on, you'll be whisked away to a higher plane. It will be a go-to record for very private emotions; what they are is utterly personal, and the relationship you'll subsequently form with Nadler's voice will be isolated. In layman's terms - it's comforting.