Mary Halvorson Primer

Credit Jacob Blickenstaff for The New York Times Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff for The New York Times

NY Times music writer, Nate Chinen wrote a fine piece in late October on guitarist Mary Halvorson (“Mary Halvorson on Guitar: Unflinching and Full of Grace”). The article provides a nice primer, a very good entry point, if you are unfamiliar with Mary’s guitar work and collaborations. It is sprinkled with some nice direct quotes, including this one about her unique approach and sound:

Asked whether she had noticed her sound among any imitators, she replied: “Actually no, I don’t think so. I can’t think of a time when I heard someone and thought, ‘Oh, that sounds like what I’m doing.’” After a pause, she added: “Maybe that will happen. I don’t know.”

Also, NPR also wrote a nice article on Mary worth checking out and it includes audio as well..

Both articles touch on Mary’s most recent release, the excellent Away With You, but the NY Times article ends with a primer that includes five releases that feature Mary’s guitar work for those wanting to dive into her catalog. In addition to the five listed releases, I would also add two more: Meltframe (from 2015) and Mary Halvorson & Noël Akchoté (released August 2016) both feature absolutely memorable musical moments. I highly recommend “Cheshire Hotel” and “Leola” off Meltframe. These two tracks illustrate Mary’s unique technique—painting her sonic landscape with just her guitar—melting, dripping, and bending notes like wet paint on a canvas, creating a fascinating and hypnotic psychedelic/temporal experience.