By Kathryn Helmore
Tides of a Teardrop is a tribute to grief, a lifeline to those seeking solidarity in a sea of loss and pain. The latest collection of songs from North Carolina folk-duo Mandolin Orange is raw, fearless and honest, a harmonious continuation of bandmates Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin’s americana sound mastered across a 10 year partnership.
“This is our most personal album yet,” says Frantz, the duo’s instrumentalist. “In a lot of the songs, Andrew is addressing the loss of his mom. We set out to tackle this directly. Throughout the album there is sadness and grief.”
The raw instrumentals flow together, perfectly complementing the minimal production and their vulnerable soft voices. The space and silence left lingering throughout harkens back to old school bluegrass while mirroring the silence and loneliness of grief.
Yet, the album is not all grief. It speaks to the other deeply personal aspects of human nature.
“’Lonely All The Time’ was originally about Andrew’s dad and the loneliness of having lost his partner,” says Frantz. “But I saw it as a relationship song. About two people in a long-term relationship who have somehow drifted apart. About the distance that is experienced by these people.”
“Like You Used To,’ an old-time tune mildly countryfied with a slide guitar, is a song about addiction and how it can morph, twist and damage relationships.
“We hope that the songs have been left metaphorical,” says Frantz. “We want our listeners to interpret it for themselves.”
Proving the depths of raw human emotion is timeless, Tides of a Teardrop makes no attempts to reinvent a genre or the band.
“While a lot is different, the new album is really a continuation of the same thing,” she says. “We don’t set out to reinvent what we are doing. We want to portray the songs in a way that feels honest and soulful. We feel like we did this to another level on the new album.”
And this honest soulful nature is brilliantly done. The album’s true mastery is its ability to soar above wallowing self-pity. The album is a refuge to those in a storm. Despite the pain, grief and sadness that flows throughout, a hope, warmth and joy mysteriously permeates. Frantz and Marlin’s talents give voice to a grief, frustration and loneliness few of us have the words to express.
Mandolin Orange perform March 7 at the Imperial Vancouver.Imperial Vancouver, Mandolin Orange