Mandolin Orange - Such Jubilee
"I have said this before, but there is good music that you listen to and enjoy. Music that you like seeing live or listening to in the car and it makes you happy for a time. Then there is the type of music that inspires you. You hear it and you think “this makes me want to create” or in my case “THIS is the music that I want to create, this is something special”. The sounds and songs that spring forth from Emily Franz and Andrew Marlin is that kind of music.
There is something so complementary and beautiful about the two singers’ voices. Marlin’s vocal has a slight crack and super fine grit sandpaper feel to it that smooths over everything somehow; humble, somewhat exposed, sensitive, but man, it just kills. The light and airy texture of Emily’s voice when they sing together, well its just pure magic. Something clicks and it just works, there is no explaining it, it is simple and pure beauty. The duo also has a tendency to switch the instrument responsibilities up a bit on tracks and while the arrangements on ‘Jubilee’ contain more than two voices and two instruments, I can see it translating beautifully in a live setting. Marlin on mandolin, Franz on guitar or Franz on fiddle and Marlin on guitar…or one on an acoustic and the other on a thinline telecaster. The dynamics that they work into the record here make me extremely excited to see them again live really, really soon.
The album has a roots, organic feel without sacrificing a more “band sound” that it seems the two were shooting for. Sonically, the record sits about where you would expect. Acoustic guitars, mandolin, banjo, but an occasional wurlitzer piano plays the backbone to an arrangement and electric guitars weave their way into a few tracks as well. While the arrangement choices here are wonderful and keep the listener engaged, the songwriting and singing is really where the band shines and grasps me.
There is just something so authentic and honest about the music of Mandolin Orange. These aren’t two folk, roots artists throwing on overalls and singing about pushing the plough along. The songs come from a place of introspection and consciousness. You get a glimpse into the heart and soul of the two songwriters through their music, and this is how I feel I most identify with a song. Singing what you know always comes across more sincere and the passion, simplicity and grace that Franz and Marlin are able to do it with is astounding.
“Rounder” has quickly become a repeat track for me. How the story is laid out and the entrance and exit of the harmonies. Simple. A great song doesn’t need a ton of flourish and parts, when its good it can stand on its own merits and this tune is 10 feet tall and standing proud. Another standout is the infectious groove of “Daylight”, the initial riff in on acoustic, the warble of the keys in the back, and the fiddle weaving intricate in and out as a snare patters soft in the background. Giving the closing of the record a variety in its sound and showing the group’s versatility in sound and feel.
For those who are already aware of Mandolin Orange, I don’t need to say this, but this here is what great music played by hard working and talented folks sounds like. The epitome of two musicians with a chemistry that is very rare, but when it happens it is something incredibly special and the world is very lucky to catch a glimpse into it when they perform. ‘Such Jubilee’ just climbed its way to the top of my favorite things list, and it will take a large feat to dislodge it from its rightful place there."
-Red Line Roots
1. Old Ties and Companions
2. Settled Down
3. Little Worlds
5. From Now On
6. Jump Mountain Blues
7. That Wrecking Ball
8. Blue Ruin
10. Of Which There is No Like