Marisa Anderson “Still, Here”

It’s not so much the stories we tell as it is the meanings they imply and what they say about us. Marisa Anderson has always been a storyteller, but even more, she follows narrative paths with her guitar, uncovering the core ideas they’re built on. Emotive passages become torchbearers for the long nights ahead, following steps in all directions – present, future, past – to find understanding and bridge broken connections woven into our bones. Anderson’s music isn’t just searching but sharing the findings from the pursuits.

Still, Here carves through familiar terrain but with fresh eyes and edges. The opening cadence shifts of the first three songs send us inward and through to the other side. Opener, “In Dark Water,” echoes light waves in our hollows, grounded by quiet synths so that Anderson’s acoustic guitar explorations find paydirt. Stillness looms in the peripheral, but these winding leads and the quickening pace of “The Fire This Time” push us beyond self-constructed boundaries. 

Anderson understands that so many of the answers we’re seeking are buried deep within; we just have to open enough to hear them. The lilting electric cries of “The Low Country” shimmer in the darkening sky, letting us know we’re close. Slow, purposeful strums drive forward across lonely landscapes and tempered expectations, hanging on to thinning strands of hope. 

Looking deep enough or traveling far enough allows us to see the places we began from a different perspective. We realized the answers were there all along, and we just needed a way to unlock them. Anderson’s music is a conduit. Joy floods in through “The Crack Where Light Gets In,” her carefree melodies singing blissfully in the sun. It’s a high point on an album full of them.

The more complicated truth is that meaning and connection can only take us so far. There will always be words left unsaid and memories forgotten. Timeless harmonies and chord progressions tread lithely in closer “Beat the Drum Slowly,” a wistful acceptance of the things we cannot change or understand right now and the belief that the answers are still out there flickering in the wind. Still, Here is equal parts haunting lament and beautiful reverie, the whole of us as a sonic celebration.

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