Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky - Droneflower - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky - Droneflower

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2019-04-26
Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky - Droneflower
Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky - Droneflower

Fresh off of last year’s For My Crimes, the increasingly prolific singer/songwriter Marissa Nadler has now teamed up with Cave-In frontman Stephen Brodsky for the joint-album Droneflower. Billed as a “sprawling and expansive exercise in contrasts,” the record was born out of a chance meeting back in 2014 where the two artists expressed a mutual desire to explore working on music that didn’t quite fit with their respective projects.

And in that respect, the duo has succeeded in delivering an album that pushes the boundaries of any fan’s preconceived notions. Over the course of Droneflower’s ten tracks, Nadler’s haunting, reverb-drenched vocals are enhanced in new and unexpected ways by Brodsky’s understated playing.

While a sparse piano line and a brief taste of Nadler’s unmistakable voice set the stage for album-opening “Space Ghost”, it’s with “For the Sun” that Brodsky’s rumbling presence is first felt. Built around a chugging guitar line and Nadler’s ever-evocative vocals, the song is one of the album’s most aggressive moments. From there, much of Droneflower is split between Brodsky’s finger-picked motifs (“Watch The Time”, “Dead West”) and Nadler’s minimalistic piano vamps. Sparse, affecting covers of the Guns N’ Roses epic “Estranged” (one of the album’s highlights) and Morphine’s “In Spite of Me” round out this collection.

The problem that tends to arise from opposite-sides-of-the-fence-collaborations is that it can be incredibly difficult to seamlessly integrate disparate artistic viewpoints into something that feels like a cohesive statement. When it works, you get Derek & the Dominoes; when it doesn’t, you get things like Audioslave and Velvet Revolver. That’s not to say that those bands were inherently awful, but more that their work does little more than remind you of their individual pieces rather than standing on its own (like the Layla record so obviously does all these years later).

In that regard, Droneflower is a success, as it pulls Brodsky well out of his comfort zone while also pairing Nadler’s musings with a refreshing sonic backdrop. If Nadler and Brodsky's new album proves to be a one-off, it will be a damn shame, as the duo has succeeded in drafting an incredibly intriguing blueprint here. For fans of either of these artists’ work, Droneflower is highly recommended.

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