Mandolin Orange Show Review
Doug Fir Lounge – June 10th, 2015
The humble duo Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin who make up the band Mandolin Orange, charmed the crowd last Wednesday night with their constant comical banter back and forth with the audience. The two embody a style and sound blending new and old traditions of the folk- bluegrass genre that is multigenerational, proven by the diversity of the audience.
Opening with an older song, “These Old Wheels”, set the tone of who they are as artists as the respectable silence spread quickly amongst the crowd. Their experienced instrumental ability was the true showcase of their talents and performance. Frequent instruments were swapped out thoughtfully for each song as the fiddle made a dominant debut as the fan favorite. Andrew went in for a lengthy jam session, facial spasms aligning with each note as sporadic yells and whistles were hollered out from the crowd.
The set continued with songs from their newest album, Such Jubilee, which was released last month. The song “Little Worlds” began as Emily and Andrew matched in unison flawlessly, their musical chemistry clearly mastered. A frantic violin solo from Emily erupted as well as more yelps and screams from the crowd. They ended track after track by cracking a joke and conversing with the audience that was refreshing, immediately lightening the mood to break the trance of their melancholy lyrics.
Emily gave the crowd a fair warning about the sad set that was to come, introducing the next track as a classic Nashville style song called “There Was A Time,” possessing a country-like twang about a bitter love ending. Subtle murmurs of the crowd singing along with the lyrics could be heard throughout the night.
The instrumentally savvy duo could practically play in their sleep, as both Emily and Andrew kept their eyes closed while singing, taking care in each note with the facial expressions to match, embracing the music and sounds coming from the fiddle, guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and violin especially through the songs “Turtledove & The Crow” and “Hey Adam”.
With little breaks between songs, “Rounder” began and was described as a cowboy style song as Emily swapped out her acoustic guitar for an electric, switching up the sound. The saddest part of the set was yet to come through the song “Blue Ruin” as she explained how it was written and dedicated for the children lost in the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown. Somber sniffles could be heard from all around as everyone listened respectively in silence.
Refusing to believe the night would end on that note, Mandolin Orange emerged for their encore, not even after five minutes turning the night around to heighten the energy. “Here’s a song about Whiskey…” Emily announced, as they emerged with their fun tracks “Waltz with Whiskey” and “One More Down.” They were a complete mood changer, ending on a high note with rambunctious dancing and a free-spirited sensation in the atmosphere. Mandolin Orange possess an effortless flair in their ability to incorporate a range of classic folk string instruments that is timeless. It was a night for appreciation of quality musicianship and simplicity of classic roots of folk music.