Marisa Anderson’s solo guitar provides solace and forges community

Guitarist Marisa Anderson, based in Portland, Oregon, is a veteran solo performer, but solitude isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when she plays. In concert and on a string of solo albums, her reverberant, gritty instrumentals tap into the capacity of blues, gospel, and folk music to bring people together. Anderson’s recent back-to-back duo projects with drummer Jim White and guitarist William Tyler achieve a synergy that could only have come from collaboration, but her new solo LP, Still, Here (Thrill Jockey), is a direct result of the stasis and isolation imposed by the COVID pandemic. Its layered construction, varied instrumentation, unhurried tempos, and melancholy vibes are all congruent with the circumstances of a touring musician who suddenly found herself with plenty of time to play but no live audience to hear her. But that doesn’t mean its songs are any less vivid than Anderson’s earlier recordings. “Night Air,” which suspends delicate piano lines over intertwined, Iberian-tinged guitar figures, evokes both the vastness of a nocturnal sky and the bereftness you might feel if you couldn’t share that view. The mournful slide guitar and restless acoustic fingerpicking on “The Fire This Time” convey the frustration and grief that Anderson experienced following the murder of George Floyd. And the album’s final track, a gorgeous, reflective performance of the traditional “Beat the Drum Slowly,” comes full circle back to the kind of music she was recording a decade ago.

Marisa Anderson Health&Beauty open. Proof of COVID vaccination is required upon entry. Sat 11/19, 8:30 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $20, 18+

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at the Museum of Contemporary Art

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