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Baker's Dozen

Extracted Essence: Marissa Nadler's 13 Favourite Albums
Patrick Clarke , December 5th, 2018 14:37

Marissa Nadler guides Patrick Clarke through thirteen records that define her as an artist, from Dirty Three and Broadcast to Dylan and Young

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

“I love looking at the reviews for these records,” says Marissa Nadler halfway through her Baker’s Dozen. “A 7.5 from Pitchfork for Broadcast’s Tender Buttons? Fuck you! This is a 10 out of 10!”

She’s come prepared for our interview, notes made on each album as we run through them. A lot of the records share common themes, a directness to their songwriting and a depth of emotion, strengths shared by Nadler herself on her dark and tender new record For My Crimes. “It’s weird that a lot of these are lyrical records, because most of the time these days I’m listening to stuff like Harold Budd and Brian Eno, I could make a whole other list of ambient, creepy shit that I like,” she says.

Nadler’s latest album displays her sharpest songwriting to date. “I have to admit I did consciously make sure that every song on my new record was one that would reach people,” she continues. “I do gravitate to universal themes, there’s certain songwriters I really don’t like because of their pretentiousness. If I look back on my early records I cringe, I was super arty and every song was about death. Now I guess as I get older and I think more about the relationship with what I like about music, the songs I like, they are usually songs with universal themes. I have a pop sensibility and I don’t feel bad about that anymore. The music is direct and confessional now; I’ve dropped the schtick!

Her taste, which she downplays as “not super left-field,” was shaped by her family. Her earliest musical memories were of her ‘late-era hippy’ parents’ prog rock collection, of live shows by King Crimson, Procol Harum and Jethro Tull. Her brother, too had a formative influence. “I didn’t have friends giving me stuff that was cool, it was just him and my parents. He was a little bit like that scene in Almost Famous – ‘this record will change your life!’ – but I was definitely cooler than him. He liked Phish!”

She makes no apologies for the ‘classics’ that litter her Baker’s Dozen. “I get bored really easily, and what’s passing these days for song lyrics… sometimes I read a review and they pull out what’s supposed to be a ‘poignant lyric’, I’m like ‘what are you in elementary school? That’s supposed to be a poetic lyric?’” she laughs. “I set the bar high…”

Click the image below to begin reading Marissa Nadler’s 13 favourite records