Long one of the Triangle's more popular young bands, Mandolin Orange is now taking a big step toward the national spotlight. In an announcement earlier this week via CMT Edge—the country TV station's online sounding board for alternative Americana—the Carrboro folk duo revealed that This Side of Jordan, the group's third album, will be released by Yep Roc Records, the N.C. label that claims such stalwarts as Nick Lowe and Robyn Hitchcock. The album drops on Aug. 6. Lead single "House of Stone" is currently streaming here.
Arriving on the scene with the 2010 debut, Quiet Little Room, Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz began as an intimate, stripped-back folk pair with hypnotic melodies and earnest wordplay. But Quiet Little Room's confines soon became too limiting. 2011's double-wide follow-up, Haste Make/Half Hearted Stranger, split the difference, setting aside one disc for the duo's standard acoustic prettiness, while using the other as an opportunity to expand into meditative folk-rock graced by patient bass lines, shimmers of electric guitar and unobtrusive drumming.
"House of Stone" finds Mandolin Orange becoming more comfortable with this full-band approach. The song starts with wisps of fiddle and calm picking, recalling the group's bare-bones beginnings. Skittering drums enter soon thereafter, joined by subdued bass and rich electric fills. The sound grows more robust as the tune progresses. Marlin and Frantz's harmonies find devils and dreams grappling for metaphorical space as her fiddle melts into tender guitar melodies. It's the most beautiful sound the band has yet to create.