One Longfellow Square
August 16, 2015
Mandolin Orange presents a simple picture: two members, sharing fiddle, mandolin and guitar and two powerful voices. As Mandolin Orange, Emily Franz and Andrew Marlin command the room.
The duo formed in Carrboro, North Carolina a few years back, and have released an impressive series of CD’s over the last few years, most recent “Such Jubilee” on Yep Roc Records. Mandolin Orange tours vigorously, but is relatively new to a Northeast audience. Their show at the cozy One Longfellow Square in Portland was the last on a run through the upper reaches of the Eastern U.S.
Evoking Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Mandolin Orange distinguishes itself with Marlin’s top-rank songwriting and vocal harmonies between the players. The instrumental licks solidly underscore the band’s lyrical strength, but do no overpower. Marlin takes the lead on most songs. His rich voicing is draws the listener into the soul of his musical creations. Franz, for her part, effortlessly seals the vocal deal, positioning herself slightly off-mic by design. It’s a remarkable pairing.
Mandolin Orange presents smart, rich music rooted in the American experience. The band, as one would expect, featured the “Such Jubilee” selections. Standouts included “Rounder”, “That Wrecking Ball” and the haunting evocation of the Newtown shootings, “Blue Ruin”. “The Side of Jordan”, Mandolin Orange’s powerful 2013 release was also well-represented, most notably by the infectious “Waltz About Whiskey”.