Personnel: Andrew Marlin (vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, snare drum); Emily Frantz (vocals, acoustic guitar, fiddle); Josh Oliver (electric guitar, Wurlitzer organ).
Audio Mixers: Julian Dreyer; Mandolin Orange.
Photographers: Jared Swafford; Alex Loops.
The follow-up to 2013's antebellum audio postcard This Side of Jordan, Such Jubilee, the fourth studio long-player from Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, finds the North Carolina duo tilling familiar ground, offering up another timeless-sounding set of unapologetically homespun American Roots music built around the age-old foundation of heartfelt lyrics, sweet harmonies, and gentle strumming and picking. The melodious and affable This Side of Jordan connected (and rightly so) with enough people to ensure that Mandolin Orange would be engaging with relatively full houses while on tour in support of the album, and most of the ten tracks on Such Jubilee reflect the often stark contrast between life on the road and the comforts of home. Recorded live in the studio (face to face), stand-out cuts like the warm and wistful opener "Old Ties & Companions," the equally aching and cordial "Little Words," and the evocative Shenandoah-inspired "Jump Mountain Blues" are as immediate sounding as they are adamantly nostalgic. Even when the pair tackle more contemporary themes, which they do with great success on the measured but quietly devastating ballad "Blue Ruin," which wrestles with the lack of gun reform in the aftermath of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the results are no less coated in a patina of the purest sepia. Marlin and Frantz craft songs with one foot in the now and the other in the hereafter, and while their particular blend of neo-Appalachian folk and road-weary Americana is hardly a revelation, it's certainly of a quality that deserves the pricing of a fine vintage. ~ James Christopher Monger