Nicole Dollanganger – Married in Mount Airy (Album Review)

There’s a certain sense of pride that washes over my Canadian heart when I see other Canadians winning hard, and that’s exactly what Nicole Dollanganger has done with her long anticipated release of “Married in Mount Airy”, following 2018’s “Heart-Shaped Bed”. I never like to make early predictions of our album of the year, but this one is gonna be a tough one to follow.

For those of us who spent too much time on Tumblr, Nicole Dollanganger’s music is a soundtrack to a unique and uniquely troubled portion of our lives. She’s inescapable in a way, her sweet&sad vocals over stripped down musical accompaniment have often told lurid and disturbing tales and have gone on to inspire other singer-songwriters (Baby Bugs, Ethel Cain, etc). The music is powerful, because her vocal delivery disarms the listener before the lyrics give a shot to the gut and it’s that combination that still has fans fighting over long discontinued merch on resale sites like eBay. Dollanganger’s music means a lot, to a lot of people, and with “Married in Mount Airy” it’s not difficult to see why. MIMA (as the album was called in secret for many months) is a clear and stark departure from the true crime coquette lyrics that had filled Dollanganger’s first albums. Make no mistake, there’s still a very sinister undertone to Married in Mount Airy, but it’s one that simmers below the surface, ghostly shadows creeping out of lace curtains in a long forgotten love hotel. It’s spectral laughter in a faded pink wallpapered hallway. The lyrical and thematical content of Married in Mount Airy is one most relatable – the beginning and subsequent ending of a relationship and the complicated feelings that often come with it. There’s some hints towards alcohol and drug abuse that hit a lot of notes for me, as someone who has buried a few too many people due to white lines and bottles.

From the drunken heat-struck beginnings of making love beneath mirrored ceilings in a lover’s suite (“Married in Mount Airy”), the desperate love and blind devotion (“Dogwood” & “My Darling True” & “Moonlite”), the fading good times and seeds of bitterness sown (“Gold Satin Dreamer” & “Runnin’ Free”), to the 4am realizations that you don’t know the person you loved anymore, even if you still love them, you love who they used to be (“Sometime After Midnight” & “Nymphs Finding The Head Of Orpheus”), there’s the anger the comes (“Whispering Glades”), and finally the acceptance (“I’ll Wait For You To Call”). I think what strikes me so deeply is that not only is this an exploration start to finish of a relationship, a deeply personal glimpse into Nicole’s personal life, but it is a complete run through of the Five Stages of Grief. Many break-up albums focus on one aspect of the Five Stages, typically anger, righteous or otherwise. “I’ll Wait For You To Call”, contains that acceptance of the ending of a relationship, the knowledge of having intimately known another, and having a place for them in the bookshelves of your mind, even if they’re no longer your favourite read.

Nicole Dollanganger has made a beautiful and beautifully sad album with “Married in Mount Airy”. MIMA was created alongside Canadian musician and producer Matthew Tomasi (who has previously worked with Nicole on her albums), known for his work with 9Million, FRICTION and work on Ethel Cain’s debut full length album “Preacher’s Daughter”. Matthew’s consistently well done production shows the breadth of his skill, and the fact that more people don’t know his work is quite frankly a criminal offense. Nicole and Matt crafted something beautiful together and with any hope we will see this partnership continue on into the future. There’s something so special about two long term friends and partners growing together not only as friends but as artists. This is a very grown-up record and it has me all in my feelings today.

Drunk in a Graveyard favourites: “Bad Man”, “Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus”, “Whispering Glades”, “I’ll Wait For You to Call”.

Clocking in at around 45 minutes, t’s a quick listen and I recommend taking the time to do so.
Married in Mount Airy is available now on Apple Music, and bandcamp.

You can find Nicole Dollanganger on Instagram and Twitter.

You can find Matthew Tomasi and his various musical projects like 9Million, FRICTION, at Homie Shit Mag, and find Matthew on Instagram


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