Marian McLaughlin is a unique musician based in the Washington/Baltimore area, and because she’s lived in D.C., I’ve had a chance to watch her grow. She’s an artist on her own path, making music like few others.
The closest comparisons might be Joanna Newsom or Diane Cluck, both of whom I admire; both are of their own place and time, and the music they make connects on a personal level. Listening feels as if you’ve entered their meticulously decorated living rooms. And so it is for Marian McLaughlin, with her quirky and wistful style of singing — and her unusual nylon-string guitar playing, which balances staccato and spacious sounds.
When I saw McLaughlin perform with a string quartet, I felt compelled to bring her to the Tiny Desk. Ethan Foote, the fellow on the upright bass, did the arrangements; Geoff Manyin is on cello and Nick Montopoli, on violin, is from the group Invoke. The strings add considerable atmosphere to McLaughlin’s music; you can hear it especially in the opening song about Otto Lilienthal, a German mechanical engineer who was a precursor to the Wright Brothers. These three songs are from McLaughlin’s self-released record on Bandcamp, titled Dérive.
- “I Am Of Ocean”
Producers: Denise DeBelius, Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Olivia Merrion, Becky Lettenberger; Production Assistant: Faith Masi; photo by Meredith Rizzo/NPR