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TIDES OF A TEARDROP - MANDOLIN ORANGE 

LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH - FEBRUARY 2019

Mandolin Orange - TOAT.jpg
  • Artist: Mandolin Orange

  • Release Date: 1st February, 2019

  • Genre: Folk, Americana, Singer-Songwriter

  • Record Label: Yep Rock Records

  • Tracks: 10 + (4 bonus tracks)

  • Website: http://www.mandolinorange.com

  • Review By: Gary Smith (LCM)

It’s often the most personal and intimate feelings which translate into the most universally loved music. That is certainly the case with our LCM featured album this month ‘Tides Of A Teardrop’ by Mandolin Orange. This very successful North Carolina duo of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz have added their touring band Josh Oliver, Clint Mullican and Joe Westerland to their fifth studio album recording. It’s all overseen by producer Julian Dreyer and captured over four days at Ashville’s Echo Mountain Recording studio.

Grief, heartbreak and finding ways to heal are the central themes of this emotionally powerful and tender album. It’s full of slow-burning acoustic meditations on love and loss. Andrew Marlin explores the grief following the death of his mother 13 years ago. He was only 18 at the time and comments that the songwriting process has become a healing process on his long journey. “All of our records come from a personal place and people are able to connect with the songs that we are writing. They talk to us after the show about thinks hey are dealing with, and we see what it means to them. It’s very inspiring and gives me a lot of confidence going forward with the record”.

The album begins with one of my favourite tracks the beautiful and reflective ‘Golden Embers’, which sets the tone perfectly. It explores the grief process and help from friends and family. With nostalgia and the lingering memories of his mother greeting Andrew “just like an old friend, kinder than expected.” It’s a track about making room for memories, even as the feelings of grief abides, with Andrew feeling his mother’s undying influence and continued presence. “Loss has no end, it binds to our connection.”

In the reflective ‘The Wolves’ Andrew sings of “broken hearts beyond repair”, with its lovely electric guitar solos and rich mandolin accents.
Next Emily takes lead vocals on the next two tracks the smoldering ballads ‘Into the Sun’ with its intimate, personal feel and wonderful harmonies and ‘Like You Used To’ with the signature mandolin front and centre. It’s reminds me of a Alison Krauss track both in its arrangement and vocals.

If the title of ‘Mother Deer’ seems first like a potential typo but it provides one of the album’s quietest and most powerful moments. With Emily providing a subtle harmony and wonderful mandolin fills. It is full of beautiful imagery as Andrew sings “somewhere in a field of clover, she waits for me…..in a land of constant spring”. Then goes on to describe a place with “no scavengers, no machines….she is free”. It’s enough to make the idea of a later reunion melt the most hardened of hearts. Although the album is primarily reflective, ‘Mother Deer’ looks forward to that ultimate moment of reconciliation.

Some classic country next in ‘Lonely All The Time’. Fiddle strums and bowing, electric guitar, mandolin and pedal steel combine to create this timeless piece. The pace slows again for the beautiful and melancholy ‘When She's Feeling Blue’. ‘My baby only holds me in her arms when she is feeling blue…..She sparkles like a diamond and shines like gold’. The beautifully written ’Late September’ may be the only song where “closing time” refers not just to last call, but to the end of hospital visiting hours and ultimately his mother passing, as Andrew reflects on the changing seasons outside his mother’s hospital room window. ‘Suspended In Heaven’ is the album’s most bluegrass song echoing The Stanley Brothers’. Rich and lonesome harmonies share a “journey unended”. It’s also where the songs lyrics gives the new album its title.

With its marvelous imaginary and the soothing slow burning and tender ‘Time We Made Time’ feels like the perfect way to end the album. “It’s time we made time just for talking,” they sing. “It’s time we made time to heal.”

Andrew, Emily and the band will be heading to the UK on tour with their London date at The Islington Assembly Hall on May 15th. Don’t miss them!

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