Essential New Music: Marisa Anderson’s “Cloud Corner”

Marisa Anderson’s devotions to music, social transformation and good old-fashioned adventuring have kept her on the road for a fair bit of her life. She knows all about packing light and packing smart, and a similar sensibility infuses her music. Cloud Corner, her first recording for Thrill Jockey, is a studio production that layers her electric guitar with Wurlitzer piano, Andean charango and Mexican requinto jarocho. But every tune on it can be boiled down to a solo performance, and each comes with a story attached.

In concert, those stories draw you into her life and those of her subjects, but on record, the music communicates just fine with nary a word. Anderson’s tunes are rooted in American folk, blues and gospel, and charged with the life and death struggles that regular folks have faced since before this country was a nation. They give comfort, express defiance and set you pleasantly adrift in an imaginary sea of flowing melody and liquid reverb.

—Bill Meyer