Tiny Desk

Marian McLaughlin

Download Audio

14 min 6 sec

Marian McLaughlin is a unique musician based in the Washington/Baltimore area, and because she's lived in D.C., I've had a chance to watch her grow. She's an artist on her own path, making music like few others.

The closest comparisons might be Joanna Newsom or Diane Cluck, both of whom I admire; both are of their own place and time, and the music they make connects on a personal level. Listening feels as if you've entered their meticulously decorated living rooms. And so it is for Marian McLaughlin, with her quirky and wistful style of singing — and her unusual nylon-string guitar playing, which balances staccato and spacious sounds.

When I saw McLaughlin perform with a string quartet, I felt compelled to bring her to the Tiny Desk. Ethan Foote, the fellow on the upright bass, did the arrangements; Geoff Manyin is on cello and Nick Montopoli, on violin, is from the group Invoke. The strings add considerable atmosphere to McLaughlin's music; you can hear it especially in the opening song about Otto Lilienthal, a German mechanical engineer who was a precursor to the Wright Brothers. These three songs are from McLaughlin's self-released record on Bandcamp, titled Dérive.

Set List
  • "Heavier-than-air"
  • "I Am Of Ocean"
  • "Horse"
Credits

Producers: Denise DeBelius, Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Olivia Merrion, Becky Lettenberger; Production Assistant: Faith Masi; photo by Meredith Rizzo/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Maggie Starbard/NPR

Tiny Desk

Young Fathers

Intense, hip-hop-infused poetry is reduced to just the essentials in this two-song, four-minute set.

Maggie Starbard/NPR

Tiny Desk

Camané

A star in his native Portugal, Camané evokes melancholy with a silky baritone and elegant phrasing.

Morgan McCloy/NPR

Tiny Desk

Bellows

These are enchanting songs, with the power to drift in your head for days.

Morgan McCloy/NPR

Tiny Desk

Eskmo

Found objects are percussion instruments in the hands of a man who's part musician, part magician.

Vijay Iyer Trio performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 20, 2015. Olivia Merrion/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Olivia Merrion/NPR

Tiny Desk

Vijay Iyer Trio

Iyer's working band transforms selections from throughout the pianist's deep and varied catalog.

Tiny Desk Concert with José González. NPR hide caption

itoggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk

José González

This soft-spoken Swedish singer left an imprint at the Tiny Desk that was gentle and long lasting.

Colin Marshall /NPR

Tiny Desk

DakhaBrakha

The Ukrainian acoustic quartet's music encompasses sounds and rhythms from around the world.

Carlos Waters/NPR

Tiny Desk

Jessie Ware

The young English singer brings warmth to electronic music and a swooning quality to her own pop.

Back To Top