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Her playing is raw and unadorned, sometimes with an acoustic or a slide guitar, but mostly wrought by an overdriven, electric guitar that exposes and hides the mysteries of American music. -NPR

When I listen to Marisa Anderson’s solo guitar music, I think of Sun Ra’s poem about “Tone Scientists.” It wasn’t enough for Ra that his musicians hit the notes; he wanted them to play with precision, discipline, and an awareness of tone and architecture. Anderson, who’s based in Portland, Oregon, has paid her dues and done her research: she played in country, circus, and jazz bands before applying her acumen to a series of solo instrumental records for acoustic and electric guitar and lap steel. On her latest LP, Traditional and Public Domain Songs (Grapefruit), her performances of chestnuts such as “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” and “Farther Along” are structurally sound and patiently paced, allowing the audience to soak in her waves of Pops Staples-style reverb and be hypnotized by her Elizabeth Cotton-inspired fingerpicking.-Chicago Reader

Anderson’s tone is one to wade out into – one moment her slide brittle and brief against the grooves of the steel strings, the next a long-in-dying tremolo her instrument’s heaving breaths. Anderson is mesmerizing – from the freer interpretations, such as the shamanistic “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” to straighter renditions, such as the Merle Travis thumb-hop of “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” – the swirl of whiskey poured into tea; a drawn-out story in the shade. -Boston Hassle

Mercury offers 16 concise tracks in 35 minutes, replete with character, ornery attitude and sheer musical pleasure…Anderson’s thing is picking on electric and lap steel, but Mercury is about mindful. aware playing rather than slick razz or dazzle. Her sound has strength in restless variety, demonstrated on the opening pair of tracks.  “The New Country” is a deep bowl of twang, shimmering in midday sunlight, while “Deep Gap” is translucent, a skipping rope dance. On “Down Off The Mountain”, Anderson shows off one of her best tricks, turning the amp up high and playing quietly, spinning a delicate tracery with distorted edges. Her sound, always earthy, continues to evolve over subsequent tracks. “Sinks and Rises” is an emotional high point: if a sunrise took sonic form, this is what you’d hear. 

Mercury’s other strong suit is it’s sense of risk, and most pieces feel like spontaneous compositions within the blues idiom. “Old Names” is a bitter set of snarling arpeggios and it’s out of tune like The Velvet Underground were out of tune. “Embudo” is meditative exploration, but without any overt raga influence. Anderson’s playing is heartfelt and utterly American- free from grandstanding and steeped in respect for the old tradition.        -The WIre July 2013

Mercury is the brilliant new album of acoustic and electric whirlwinds from Portland, Ore., guitarist Marisa Anderson. Through its 16 tracks, Anderson unfolds as a master of stylistic swivels, pushing from steady-handed blues staggers to open-road pontifications, from understated ragas to psychedelic meditations with a deliberate quality that belies the record’s title. She’s a fleet, dexterous picker with a broad sense of what her guitar can do; through all those looks, however, she never discards the melody or the cadence for flashy technique or selfish tangents. May 2013

THREE THINGS will happen when you listen to Marisa Anderson’s Mercury: you’ll instantly get used to it, you’ll never get tired of it, and you’ll be flooded by your own personal filmstrip of dusty roads, rusty trains, craggy mountains, and weathered faces.-Portland Mercury June 2103

Stunning solo guitar improvisations from Portland, Oregon-based multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Anderson whose haunting and evocative slide-guitar work takes the delta-blues into uncharted territory. -Time Out London 12/2/12

If you’ve heard Anderson perform either solo or as a member of the Evolutionary Jass Band, you know what a stunning musician she is. Her studies of  jazz, folk, and blues in all their guises have provided a depth and texture to her playing that is too often glossed over in those genres in place of flashy solos and straight up kitsch. –

Guitarist Marisa Anderson plays unaccompanied improvisations, unadorned but sharpened by amplification. Rooted in delta blues and country fingerpicking, Marisa stretches the boundaries of these genres to the moon.-Missing Link Records

 She may just play instrumental guitar, but it’s truly a show to see. She’s got talent in spades and quietly sits in a chair while the audience is in awe of her

Although she barely spoke throughout her short set, she didn’t need to; her guitar told her story and, without lyrics to interfere, the crowd was able to fully appreciate her awesome talent. Her fingers found all the right notes and the audience settled in to what would be an exceptional night.-Oregon Music News

One of Portland’s best guitarists –


*The Golden Hour is an utterly fabulous set of straight-to-tape improvisations for guitar and lap steel from Portland, Oregon based artist Marisa Anderson, who also plays with the Evolutionary Jass Band. While the world is not exactly under-populated with solo guitar records from the post-Delta blues, post-Takoma gene-pool, Anderson stands tall and proud. Her approach to playing her instrument hovers somewhere between extreme confidence and a kind of poetic tentativeness, coupled with an eager sense of the microtonal exploits you can uncover when a slide meets six strings. Her melodic sense is rustic, earthen, and deep, as though she has been playing these tunes for the better part of her life, but The Golden Hour really takes off when she combines this knowledge with a rambling, almost aleatory zeal for experimentation, most powerfully heard on the strung-out lights of  “Electricity”, or the buzzing swarms of feedback that descend upon  “Nebulae”. Anderson also has great tone-gruff, raunchy and brutal on  “Drop Down” and “Nebulae”, revenant with vibrato on the pellucid “Last Light”. It’s hard to explain exactly how The Golden Hour works its magic, though I suspect it ahs to do with the deceptively off-the-cuff nature of the performances. Ultimately, these are improvisations borne from many years of hardcore woodshedding. It’s a spellbinding record and the first great solo guitar LP of 2011-Jon Dale, Signal to Noise #61 Spring 2011

*The thought of an album consisting of a dozen guitar and lap steel improvisations would not normally set the heart afire but this one most certainly does. Marisa Anderson is obviously an ace guitarist, but rather than demonstrating hollow technical wizardry, she crafts pieces that recall everything from backwoods blues to gospel, country to rock’n’roll and make you actually want to sit down, concentrate and take them in. Opener “Drop Down” is the heaviest thing here, a chunky piece of wonderfully dirty slide that recalls Will Kimbrough, but on the rest of the album things are more subtle; delicate, thoughtful, laidback, less-is-more musings.
As a whole the album feels like an alternative soundtrack to Wim Wenders “Paris, Texas”, but individual pieces work perfectly on their own, with the subtle, jazz-cum-folk “The Night Before Last” and “First Light”, the soundtrack to an African sunrise, being the standouts. The recording is intimate, almost lo-fi, so you can hear Anderson’s fingers on the frets occasionally, which adds to the overall atmosphere of a performance in your living room. An impressive work from a proper guitar player.AmericanaUK March 2011

*Anderson, with these solo lap steel and guitar pieces, manages to craft soundscapes that are recognizable (in spirit and sound, if not structure) as wonderful Delta/pre-Chicago blues, that still live up to the standard of freejazz/art rock/psychedelia exploration (without any of the aggression or volume found in those genres). These blissful, beautiful audio atmospheres are in fact, to quote our former Governor (words likely also spoken by our new foulmouthed Mayor) fucking golden! Rocktober Magazine March 2011

*The Golden Hour», despite its name, only lasts for half an hour, but as for me, could have lasted forever.These Twelve short improvised wordless blues, played on electric guitar, have the important feature for music – they sound absolutely timeless.. Anderson plays very simply and quietly, without much concentration. When I listen «The Golden Hour», I am reminded of the critic Ian Penman anecdote about how great guitarist Derek Bailey once decided to make a record with the New Orleans jazzmen, play music back in the twenties. By bringing them all to a rehearsal, Bailey said – they say, but what are you going to play? how are you going to play? In response, burly old Negro, who played the trumpet, said: “What we’re going to play? How are we going to play? Guy, we’re just going to play. ” In the same way and with Anderson – she’s just playing. And judging by the fact that «The Golden Hour» I’m listening to yet more often than any other album released this year, such a position for contemporary music is the most accurate.-opium mass (translated from russian) March 2011

*There are few things as comforting as the sound of an instrumental electric guitar record. On The Golden Hour, local guitarist Marisa Anderson continues in the tradition of John Fahey and Leo Kottke by laying down 12 gorgeous, improvised solo tracks that creak and moan like an old train track. At times bluesy, always expressive, and never showy, Anderson’s playing is simply a pleasure to listen to.-Willamette Week March 2011

*Sparkling and alive sounds ‘The Golden Hour’, Marisa Anderson has her guitar, growl, howl and mourn, the blues comes from her heart and toes.-Dwars, February 2011

*The Golden Hour, the second solo record from guitarist Marisa Anderson, is a collection of 12 solo improvised compositions that sound like transmissions from the dusty roads of America’s past. Some songs rattle and groan with amplifier rust, while others dance nimbly from Anderson’s fingerwork, embracing the physicality of country and blues music while inhabiting a more mystical headspace. It’s music for the mind and the body, and Anderson’s sure, steady hand (which has also done time with the Dolly Ranchers and the Evolutionary Jass Band) goes fearlessly into unknown territory, places that are rich with dirt and ghosts and loss—and also joy. Portland Mercury/Ned Lannamann February 2011

*Anderson plays guitar and lap steel, and offers up a dozen gorgeous tracks of her own particular brand of Appalachia, from the noisy, reverbed, chaotic and crunchy, almost psychedelic sounding “Drop Down”, to the more traditionally folky “The Night Before Last”, her playing is fluid and emotional, dexterous and original, channeling the spirits of the past (Fahey, Kottke, etc.) but infusing them with the spirit of today, and her own soul and feeling, and the results are indeed really quite nice. So lovely, sun dappled back porch guitar music, with the occasional foray into something a bit darker and stormier, WAY recommended. And you can now add Anderson to the elite roll call of Post-Fahey guitar gods (and now GODESSESS!) along side James Blackshaw, Jack Rose, Richard Bishop, Ilyas Ahmed, Matt Baldwin, and the restAquarius Records January 2011

*The record has a wonderful sense of being a complete artistic object with a narrative that flows from song to song, rather than a collection of familiar tunes held loosely together by tradition. There are without a doubt similarities between this album and Jack Rose’s output in the last years of his life, and fans of his final, posthumous release Luck in the Valley (Thrill Jockey, 2010) would do well to give The Golden Hour a careful listen, as well as any lover of the blues or admirer of excellent guitar playing in the American primitive and country blues traditions.-Other Music January 2011

*Portland’s Marisa Anderson finally releases her debut album of instrumental tunes (no overdubs! no vocals!) which is garnering comparisons to some heavy-hitters in the guitar world (i.e. John Fahey, the late Jack Rose, and Sandy Bull). These electric blues wailings reflect an aesthetic not unlike the blues or Takoma revivalist music found on the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers-era track “You Gotta Move” or Sandy Bull’s “Gospel Tune.” “Golden Hour” sits somewhere between Neil Young’s tremendous, instrumental musings on the Dead Man soundtrack, a mixture of sparse Indian raga music and folk guitar, and the sound of a dusty crossroads somewhere in the Mississippi Delta. Simply good music. -Reckless Records January 2011

*…a very intimate sounding home recording filled with delicate grace. Comparisons to John Fahey & his ilk who do their hoodoo mystical rewrite of folk music is bound to occur, but close listening reveals a very original & yet truly rooted in the old style record…Clearspot International January 2011

*Anderson has crafted a fine album full of introspection and beauty. This album has the general feel of those desultory moments following a movie gunfight. The right thing might have been done, but it was bad goodness. Anderson finds humanity in some gloriously dark places. –Aiding and Abetting February 2011

*Man this is good. Dirty, earthy, Kimbrough-esque guitar improvisation-Vast and Grand, February 2011



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