Portland guitarist Marisa Anderson
, who cut her teeth in the Evolutionary Jass Band and the Dolly Ranchers, has made two solo albums whose short instrumental pieces sound too considered and lived-in to be improvised, even though they are—the latest and best, Mercury
(Mississippi), came out in June. Anderson doesn’t wipe the table clean and start from nothing; she has an easy fluency in the blues, fingerstyle tropes, and old-time traditions, and she uses these warmly familiar idioms as vehicles for exploration. She plays mostly electric guitar, sometimes with a pure, ringing tone (the creeping, lyrical “Embudo”
or the stately “Hesitation Theme and Variation Blues”
) and sometimes with a bit of distortion and a slide (the infectiously rambling “Galax”
or the stinging “The New Country,” which bears Neil Young’s influence). Sometimes a track will peter out as though Anderson simply ran out of ideas, but this warts-and-all approach has its own appeal, especially given the impressive structural cohesion she imparts to most of these 16 off-the-cuff pieces. —Peter Margasak Marisa Anderson also plays at Hideout at 10 PM.