Hoopla

Mandolin Orange to perform Tuesday at Englert in Iowa City

Multi-instrumentalist Emily Frantz and her husband, singer/songwriter Andrew Marlin, perform as Americana/folk duo Mando
Multi-instrumentalist Emily Frantz and her husband, singer/songwriter Andrew Marlin, perform as Americana/folk duo Mandolin Orange, coming to the Englert Theatre in Iowa City on Tuesday night (1/28). (Kendall Bailey Photography)

The title “Tides of a Teardrop” speaks volumes for Mandolin Orange singer/songwriter Andrew Marlin.

Now 32, the death of his mother in 2005 has inspired much of the music on this sad but beautiful album released in 2019.

“Like You Used To,” “Lonely All the Time” and “Golden Embers” are among the earnest and poignant songs from the collection he wrote after trying to tie up loose emotional ends.

“I had to take care of some deep feelings and it wasn’t easy,” he said by phone from a recent tour stop in Salina, Kan. “There were a lot of things that weren’t discussed. That was particularly so with my father. I communicated with my dad through song.”

The process yielded some of the deepest and prettiest songs he’s written. While discussing the impact of sad songs, Marlin revealed that he is a huge fan of the late Nick Drake, who made a name for himself as one of the best at crafting sad rock songs.

“I love what Nick created,” Marlin said. “I’m also a fan of Nirvana and the sad songs they made.”

Part of what makes Mandolin Orange’s music so gorgeous are the harmonies between Marlin and his wife, vocalist, guitarist, violinist Emily Frantz.

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“We’re both fans of great harmonizers,” Marlin said. “We try our best to make some nice harmonies. We love to sing together.”

The Americana roots musicians will appear Tuesday (1/28) at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City, showcasing tracks from “Tides of a Teardrop.” Marlin and Frantz will perform as a duo and front their band, which includes multi-instrumentalists Josh Oliver and Clint Mullican and drummer Joe Westerlund.

“We’re used to just playing with each other,” Marlin said. “It’s cool since it’s been a total partnership for quite some time. Having a band has been a nice change for us. It’s great for us to be able to add to our sound.”

Marlin and Frantz never envisioned a rise to prominence when they met a decade ago at a bluegrass jam in their hometown of Chapel Hill, N.C.

“We just wanted to create music and play out,” Marlin said. “It’s all gone beyond our wildest dreams.”

The prior day in Colorado, Mandolin Orange recorded for NPR. The band has played the Newport Folk Festival, South By Southwest and Bonnaroo. It has more than 50 million streams on Spotify.

“I would be crazy to complain,” Marlin said. “The greatest thing is that we’ve done all of this our way. We’ve never made concessions and we actually have an audience who likes what we do and has been so supportive.”

Expect Mandolin Orange to continue challenging its audience with its amalgam of country, bluegrass, soft rock and folk.

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“We like to mix up what we do sonically and also lyrically,” Marlin said. “A lot of people label us as a group that writes sad songs, but there’s some joy in our songs, as well. I think there’s some balance in what we do.”

• What: Mandolin Orange

• Where: Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City

• When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

• Tickets: $35 to $55, Englert Box Office, (319) 688-2653 or Englert.org/events/

• Band’s website: Mandolinorange.com

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