Still, Here

Still, Here

Marisa Anderson doesn’t need vocals to make her music sing. With a lithe touch and a controlled sense of drama, the Portland, Oregon, guitarist is a storyteller channeling centuries of American folk history and volumes of emotion. Despite her grounding in tradition, Anderson is no purist; on Still, Here, she uses multitracking as a tool to explore fuller, more developed songwriting. On opener “In Dark Water,” ruminative fingerpicking and mournful hints of the blues worry a path over held synthesizer and ghostly piano; on “The Fire This Time,” chords mapped out on the acoustic serve as a backdrop for a burnished electric lead. And on the easygoing “The Low Country,” she turns herself into a muted guitar trio, panning gentle electric across the stereo field over a soft acoustic cushion. Even at its most intricate, however, her music remains soft and restrained, and in some places, like the atmospheric “Night Air,” practically ambient. She concludes with “La Llorona” and “Beat the Drum Slowly,” a pair of traditional folk standards. They’re reminders that as singular as Anderson’s vision is, it’s part of a much longer conversation.

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