>> The Americana duo comes back on a powerful, bittersweet note that is all at once a slow burn of emotions and an instrumental accomplishment.
Mandolin Orange is an Americana folk duo that builds their sound on a combination of varied string instrumentation and absolutely beautiful vocal harmonies. The sound on their latest project ‘Tides of a Teardrop’ feels very classical in its approach, while still feeling very refreshing in the context of the musical landscapes’ current offerings. Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz have beautiful voices that accompany each other well, and an ability to mix a wide variety of instrumentation on top of fantastic songwriting. Nostalgic and twangy guitars mix with bouncy banjos, bumpy percussion, and sweeping violins, which really compliment the sad and longing emotional aesthetic of the record. The goal here is clearly to create a quiet atmosphere that embraces feelings of desperation, loneliness, nostalgia, and loss while simultaneously embracing a vivid sense of storytelling, and for the most part, they really succeed at that goal. There are moments here where everything comes together brilliantly, and it washes over the listener in a profound way. The chemistry between the two is undeniable, and the way they bounce off each other and support each other from track to track does this project a terrific justice. The balance of emotion and musicality here cements this as quality work, and the production rounds everything out into an incredibly listenable experience.
These two do a lot of things right here, but when it comes down to it, this kind of project isn’t something brand new that we’ve never heard before-- it’s just very well crafted. However, when it comes to the cohesion of the tracklist, the two vocalists are spread out in a way that feels slightly odd. Sometimes, one of the two will go missing for a track a two, only to appear in a duet and then to take their own solo for a while, which can cause a bit of dissonance in how the listener receives track order. The album is also a little front-loaded, favoring a lot of the catchy and more memorable tracks toward the beginning, with the majority of tracks feeling a little long in runtime. Additionally, the songs here do not become very memorable until after several listens.
Overall, it’s clear that Mandolin Orange approached this latest project with a specific concept in mind- playing to their strengths, and creating a melancholy collection of songs to accentuate their best features. While creatively this may not be the newest and most triumphant project, in the context of the music scene right now, Mandolin Orange did just what they set out to do, and that is very commendable. Even if folk, country, bluegrass, or Americana is not your thing, this release is so good overall that it could very well be a great addition to rounding out your taste. 4.0/5 <<