Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz are back with a new Mandolin Orange recording. It's called Blindfaller. The duo recorded its fifth album in their hometown of Chapel Hill during a week off between tour dates. The record builds on a mix of folk, country and bluegrass while always keeping the spotlight on their captivating vocal harmonies.
Marlin and Frantz brought in a band on this album, which is a change, but the core members say performing these songs is still very personal.
Frantz kicks off the vocals with the melancholy first track, "Hey Stranger." She says Marlin writes the music and imagined this song was at first imagined as an up-tempo waltz. But Frantz said it wasn't convincing in the recording studio, so she had a hand in reforming it into this quiet whimsical tune.
"I felt like I was a little more hands-on than I usually am in coming up with a new arrangement for it," said Frantz. "So it definitely feels like my song to sing."
Likewise, Marling lumbering anthem "Wildfire" is about being a son of the South.
Civil war came, civil war went
Brother fought brother, the South was spent
But its true demise was hatred, passed down through the years
It should have been different, it could have been easy
But pride has a way of holding too firm to history
And it burns like wildfire
He says the lyrics hit close to home for him, especially now.
"I think this is kind of a heated time, you know what I mean, for everybody. And people are kind of being forced to take stances on things they, in the past, have kind of just written off, and saying 'You know this doesn't affect me. I don't need to take a stand on this'," Marlin explained.
"With this song I just wanted to state how I feel about racism in the South… And hopefully not piss too many people off. And if I do, they probably deserve to be pissed off anyway."
Frantz said they realized afterward that "Wildfire" follows the same chord progression as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s "Sweet Home Alabama."
You can hear songs from the new release Blindfaller on our HD2 channel and streaming at WUNC Music. Mandolin Orange will be in the area for three shows in Saxapahaw, Raleigh and Carrboro toward the end of November.