Mandolin Orange: 5 Albums That Changed Our Lives

In addition to presenting an exclusive video, bluegrass duo Mandolin Orange talks about 5 of their albums.


Mandolin Orange is the bluegrass outfit composed of singers and multi-instrumentalists Andrew Marli and Emily Frantz.

The North Carolina outfit first gained attention behind the critical success of their 2013 album, This Side of Jordan, which NPR called “effortless and beautiful,” naming it one of the year’s best folk/Americana releases. American Songwriter said it was “honest music, shot through with coed harmonies, sweeping fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar and the sort of unfakeable intimacy that bonds simpatico musicians like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.”

Released back in May, Mandolin Orange’s wonderful follow-up, Such Jubilee, is a similar aural treat, which they recorded with just a vocal and instrumental mic each, to capture the ephemeral magic of their live chemistry.

Such Jubilee is inspired by the demanding life of the road, but by the band’s own description it’s a record about home, both the place and the idea. And though gorgeous in warm, glowing instrumentation, the album doesn’t shy away from difficult topics like intimacy, death, distance and regret.

TIDAL is proud to present an exclusive video of Mandolin Orange performing “That Wrecking Ball.” Watch it here.

In addition, Andrew and Emily shared with us a thoughtful list of albums that have changed the way they play and listen to music.

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Skaggs and Rice

This is a beautifully played and recorded album Tony Rice and Ricky Skaggs did in the “brother duet” style of bluegrass. The harmony singing and melodic playing on this record singlehandedly turned me onto folk music, and it remains one of my favorite records of all time.

Before I heard this album I listened to rock and more hardcore music, and it completely changed my interests and the direction I chose to push my creativity into. —Andrew

The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour

A friend of mine had sub-woofers in his early-’90s Toyota 4Runner that tended to add significance to anything played over that system. I remember hearing “Strawberry Fields Forever” come up on a compilation disc and it hit me so hard that I made him play the whole record, start to finish, twice. It was a revelation in songwriting and arrangement for me. I am generally a fan of the less-is-more approach but this album really highlights how powerful a well produced piece can be. —Andrew

John Hartford: Wild Hog in a Red Brush

A friend of ours and great mandolin player from North Carolina, John Hill, burned a copy of this album for me before a road trip and we listened to it for the entire tour.

It’s all old-time fiddle tunes played with a lot of rhythm. It’s where I first discovered the wonderful world of Mike Compton’s rhythmic, guttural approach to playing melody on the mandolin, and how that can be used to drive a string band. Compton’s mandolin playing has probably influenced me more than anyone else, and I’d credit this record with that connection. —Andrew

Neil Young: Harvest

I transitioned into listening to a lot of Neil Young by starting with his Live at Massey Hall record from the seventies. Harvest has definitely become one of our all time favorite records, as it is for many people, I think. When the pedal steel comes in over the second verse of “Out On The Weekend” — that’s one of my favorite moments on any record.

I love how it just sounds, like people together in a room playing with each other. It has that full, band sound, but it is somehow really sparse and pure sounding. It just sounds like fun. This record taught me to appreciate drums, and especially the drum and bass pocket. Every time I listen to it it makes me want to be on stage with a full band. —Emily

Old and In the Way

This was the band that changed bluegrass for me. They had great original songs and really fresh approaches to what a string band can achieve rhythmically. Each member [Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements, John Kahn] individually was or is a force of their own, and together it becomes a cosmic whole.

We have two live albums by them which are both equally great. It sounds like they’re having so much fun playing, and they aren’t afraid to get a little quirky with it either.  I think listening to their records has helped us loosen up, and to remember how important it is to have fun and embrace the humor of performing every now and then.  —Andrew and Emily



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