Essential New Music: Marisa Anderson’s “Still, Here”

Marisa Anderson has spent most of the last four years angling away from the solo music she made during the preceding decade. But we all know how COVID has derailed well-laid plans. Early in the pandemic, Anderson took advantage of enforced downtime to make a long-talked-about collaborative recording with fellow guitarist William Tyler. But between the time when Lost Futures went into the can and concert halls opened up again, Anderson spent a year off the road, with little opportunity to perform, but a guitar often near at hand.

Like the title suggests, Still, Here expresses the state of mind that evolves when stillness is enforced long enough for a person to process some circumstances. The eerie electric-slide melody and restless, finger-picked acoustic rhythm of “The Fire This Time” evoke the apprehension that possessed Anderson, and many other people, after George Floyd died and half the country put its foot down while the other half made it quite clear that no, those lives don’t matter. Made from similar components, but played at half the speed, “The Low Country” sounds like the consuming sorrow that arrives after the anger is spent.

But where there’s bleakness, there’s also light. Intricate but unhurried, the totally acoustic “Night Air” finds comfort in stillness. And the doubled-guitar and electric-piano melody of “The Crack Where The Light Goes In” radiates a quiet hopefulness that cannot be denied. Even when stillness is enforced, it can bring some peace.

—Bill Meyer