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Marissa Nadler - For My Crimes (Album Review)

Tuesday, 02 October 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Cara Robbins

There is a moment in Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1983 minimalist epic Nostalghia where the film’s protagonist, Gorchakov, sits overlooking a bridge in rural Italy, wondering about his homeland. There then follows a slow camera pan outwards from a puddle, which finally reveals a bridge above.

The shot takes about eight minutes, during which nothing else - literally nothing - happens. Even that shot, which pushes the limits of its audience’s attention span to the absolute maximum, is more involving than Marissa Nadler’s ‘For My Crimes’.

The follow up to 2016’s ‘Strangers’ is consistently dull, and one could be forgiven for forgetting that it’s on while listening to it. Its only possible utility might be as a meditation aid, such is the bone-crushing stillness that it elicits.

To talk about individual tracks is a waste of time, because broadly they all sound the same: basic guitar chords with unchallenging vocals and off-the-shelf string arrangements.

It’s probably more useful to discuss Nadler’s artistic intentions in creating the album. She appears motivated by a kind of musical calmness that engages with her audience semi-spiritually, whisking them off to a wistful place of memory and love, and that is why it gets two stars as opposed to one: there is little cynicism here.

Furthermore, Nadler is an able musician whose folk guitar style exists in a space with luminaries like Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, who guest here on I Can't Listen To Gene Clark Anymore and the title track respectively. Yet it’s tedious by comparison, as though you watered down the personality of the songwriting and replaced the lyrics with ones written by a committee at a marketing agency.

Being a professional musician - any kind of musician - requires incredible courage, discipline and luck. This is Nadler’s eighth studio album, which demonstrates that there will continue to be an audience for her work, but ‘For My Crimes’ is uninventive, unoriginal and forgettable. Unlike that Tarkovsky shot, it takes no risks and gives no reward as a result.

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