Saturday night (7/30) Marissa Nadler played the 2nd to last show of her current tour at Littlefield in Brooklyn. Littlefield is another one of those Brooklyn venues that seem to appear out of nowhere; you’re on what looks like a strictly industrial street with nothing of interest on it, but then suddenly you stumble into an art space tucked away from those who aren’t looking for it. The layout is also a bit like a logic puzzle, with a labyrinth-esque hallway that takes some smart navigation to get from the main space to the stage to the outside, and any combination of that.
Faces on Film
Once I completed the task of getting to the room where the music was coming from, I walked in on Faces on Film’s opening set. The man behind the name, singer/songwriter Mike Fiore was alone on stage surrounded by acoustic guitars, softly fingerpicking an electric and singing darkly poetic lyrics. He sang with great breath control and vocal tone, drawing out the vowels in words and enunciating the consonants just enough to know they’re there. Towards the end of his set he pulled out a nicely subdued, folksy cover of Clinic’s “Distortion” with harnessed potency. This aspect of Fiore’s song craft was consistent throughout his set – a quiet intensity that was controlled perfectly. As this is a quality I would also attribute to Marissa Nadler, these artists were a perfectly matched lineup.
Marissa Nadler and Faces on Film
The remaining three fourths of the acoustic guitar lineup were, of course, Marissa’s to pluck from for her set. She picked one up to start with, and immediately filled the room with her strong yet wispy vocals, lamenting different times, places, and people that are all part of her mysterious world. She is also a fingerpicking queen. As these were stripped down solo versions of her recorded material, the songs were even more intimate. She gave some brief introductions of her songs, such as sharing that “Wind Up Doll” is about a Civil War widow. This could largely be gleaned from careful attention to the lyrics, but knowing that the Civil War is the specific time period put the song in an even more sepia-toned nostalgic light, and continuing the draw on the old-soul quality that Nadler so strongly possesses. While most of her set consisted of songs off her new album, she sprinkled a couple others in, such as “Your Heart is a Twisted Vine,” which doesn’t appear on any releases:
Faces on Film joined her for duets of “Wedding” and “Puppet Master.” “It’s so nice to have company,” Nadler remarked while Fiore got in tune. Their vocals harmonized beautifully on these appropriately selected songs, and then Faces on Film exited before the last song, “In Your Lair, Bear.” They both came back out for a quick encore beginning with “The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You.” Fiore used his electric guitar to serve as the steel guitar in the recorded version, complimenting Nadler’s soft acoustic guitar and ethereal vocals that permeated the shadows her lyrics created. She ended on a cover of a song from one of her greatest influences - Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat,” to audible appreciation from her fans.
Marissa Nadler ends her tour tonight in New Haven, CT, with one more scheduled date in September in Philadelphia with Sharon Van Etten. Check our her Etsy shop where you can browse her art and order a signed copy of her CD. This was the last date for Faces on Film, who has one more listed date of August 17th at Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His new album is available for streaming on his tumblr.