Album Review: Mandolin Orange – Blindfaller

Blindfaller.jpgNorth Carolina duo Mandolin Orange, who combine simplistic melodies with complex lyricism, are set to release their fourth studio album, Blindfaller, on September 30th via Yep Roc Records. Building a musical foundation based upon the long-established sounds of roots music, members Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz are keeping the musical traditions of the Appalachian mountain range alive and blossoming. Mandolin, banjo, guitar, and fiddle fill the sound waves as the flawless harmonies of the two come glimmering through, like that of a smoky mountain sunrise.

Blindfaller is a dazzling collection of new songs filled with fresh stories of the road conveyed through the beautiful musicality of an old time string band. The album begins with track”Hey Stranger”, which that opens with strums and plucks of the strings, matching the comforting timbre of Frantz’ vocals, which warn of the troubles and hard times that are sure to come to each of us in life. “Wildfire”, which opens with a pedal steel swell that creates a stunning backdrop for the storytelling of Marlin’s tenor, pays tribute to relationships and history as each verse paints vivid pictures that burn like wildfire in the chorus. In lovely contrast, “Cold Lover’s Waltz” is a chilling display of Frantz’ voice, as a full string section provides brilliant dynamics for the melodies of heartbreak that ring out. Album standout “Hard Travelin’”, a honky tonk-esque tribute to the work of Hank Williams and the like, simmers with fiery pedal steel and a driving rhythm section. Album closer “Take this Heart of Gold,” offers a change of musical complexion it brings–instead of their trademark smooth pickin’ of guitar and mandolin, the song is delivered solely on the ambient strings of an electric guitar, a blend of harmonic perfection and lyrical depth, that will surely send a chill up your spine.

Mandolin Orange is damn good at what they do and this new album shows that; the band sees no need to jump through the genre and people-pleasing hoops that so many other artists do, and they continually make great music that feels as fresh as the fall air on that first cool September day. They continue to stick to their deeply-rooted bluegrass guns, while finding a way to keep their words and melodies fresh, making Blindfaller a gold mine of lyrical honesty and musical simplicity.

Purchase Blindfallerhttps://itunes.apple.com/us/album/blindfaller/id1132628500

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James Farley

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