As a young duo with roots deep in the musical soil of North Carolina, Mandolin Orange pluck a ghostly sonic quality that is both calming and invigorating. Part bluegrass, part gospel, part Appalachian folk, Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz blend their voices into something that almost feels like it speaks from beyond the grave.
On “House of Stone,” Frantz’s fiddle and Marlin’s guitar are paired with the disjointed image of a church auction. The melody is peaceful, but Marlin’s lyrics speak of struggle and the devil’s temptations. It’s a fire-and-brimstone lullaby.
“Growing up in the South, hymns were a common part of my childhood,” says Marlin. “My mother played piano for the church, and so did her mother before that. Many of those old tunes refer to a mansion of gold that awaits all believers in heaven. ‘House of Stone’ is meant to be some kind of modern hymn that uses some of the same terminology to convey a contrary idea. To me, a mansion of gold seems too much like an infomercial for the afterlife.”
While their third album, This Side of Jordan, comes out Aug. 6 on Yep Roc Records, you can listen to “House of Stone” right here in this CMT Edge world premiere.