top of page
[Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater, January 23, 2020]
(2020 - Tiptoe Tiger Records - USA)



Something more than honest, soul searching, deeply moving, and past the point of communicating to the audience, both soaking the listeners with a baptism of rebirth and seventh heaven. On this live performance Mandolin Orange knock it out of the ballpark, giving everyone a taste of their best, with cuts from their very best studio releases (the most recent being 'Tides of A Teardrop', a pinnacle of their skill set so far). A duo from Chapel Hill North Carolina, they began in 2009. Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Marlin (lead vocals) and violinist/guitarist Emily Frantz (shares both lead vocals and backup) prove themselves to be extraordinary at not only composing and performing standout songs, but also being able to communicate with the everyday person, the fans who truly love music, and dismiss the gabber from the industrial machine that often digests acts before they get past the first album.

The moment I heard this band, I instantly recognized their relaxed state, the absolute authentic quality of the two front members. With a confirmed confidence, they go through a nice catalog of tunes with velvet-like proficiency. Not a trace of nerves or doubt is detected, not one weak note, nothing but sweet surrender to the audience's delight. The band is capable of mixtures that bring esoteric touches to their country, folk, and bluegrass rooted output, thus revealing a calm and warm sound which is so enticing to the fans. The act is the victor, yet the fan feels like the real winner.  

Breaking news is that the band has changed their name to Watchhouse. I am not sure why as I loved the Mandolin Orange name, but the link provided gives info to buy and listen. All songs written by Andrew Marlin (who also has several solo albums out) and the live band here is Andrew Marlin - mandolin, acoustic guitar, vocal/ Emily Frantz - acoustic guitar, fiddle, vocal/ Josh Oliver - electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocal/ Clint Mullican - bass/ Joe Westerlund - drums, percussion/ and Kate Rhudy - fiddle on 'Hawk is a Mule', background vocals on 'Into the Sun'. The members, as you will hear for yourselves, are premium players. They tell the story of how they came about releasing a live album, and no doubt, they understand the true reasons they exist and how they effect the fans who come to see them play. It is that intersection in which all the rewards are realized, the efforts are worth it, and the reality of how their music moves people in a live situation. The band being furnished proof of how this interaction not only occurs, but how important it is.

When a person goes to see a live performance of this band (Watchhouse, formerly Mandolin Orange) they bring their ears from the studio albums, to a place where the vibes are electric and not only swarming, but fully charged with magnetic energy. More so than the typical live performance. Thus, the unusual quality of the many compositions. Great story telling, dedicated artists, full of good feel music, with added tenderness and some moments that swoop in with gentleness and melts your heart. Like a best friend, they comfort you, entertain you, and respect the fan. A lovable and unforgettable live release. You will not find a more humble live act, so worthy of praise, so worth your time, and so notable.

   ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 4  - 18 - 2021
bottom of page