Most music is written, or at least performed, by groups of people. Even if a songwriter or composer writes a song or a symphony in isolation, it’s usually intended to be performed by some sort of ensemble, be it a rock band or a philharmonic orchestra.
Then there’s music written and performed by one person—and the further extension of that is the music written and performed by one person with such a feeling of solitude that listening to it almost feels like a voyeuristic peek into somebody’s internal world.
The latter is the kind of music that Marry Mannor makes.
“The man on the moon, he said there’s no harm in being lonely,” she sings in “Lover.”
Mannor is the sobriquet of one Gabrielle Guerrero, a Reno 22-year-old. She seems pensive and perhaps a tad self-conscious, but with a wild excitability just beneath the surface. She thinks before she speaks and takes a diffident tone but punctuates her stories with interjections of “Oy vey!” and stories about alcohol poisoning.
Her music draws heavily from Cat Power, Joanna Newsom and CocoRosie—a grand tradition of feminine, idiosyncratic, introverted music—and Guerrero leaves something of the impression of a young talent still developing her own voice, but the promise is there.
She played guitar in metal bands as a teenager and then in the “minimalist acoustic folk duo” Mary Jane & Tilly Too. The duo broke up and, after her arm was broken when she was hit by a car, she couldn’t play guitar, so she took up the keyboard to write the batch of songs that make up her mini-album, Come Home.
The five-song album, recorded by Reno basement record impresario Justin Morales, has an eerie, otherworldly sound: doubled vocals and muted, fuzzy synthesizer recorded on a reel-to-reel tape machine for that analog warmth.
Guerrero’s lyrics focus on childhood nostalgia.
“A good song draws on memories and evokes something powerful in somebody else,” she says. She adds that one of her favorite tricks is to pair hopeful lyrics with sad-sounding music or vice versa.
Come Home includes a cover of “Sea of Love,” originally a hit in 1959 for Phil Phillips, and subsequently covered by hundreds of people, including Del Shannon, Robert Plant and Tom Waits. Though Marry Mannor’s version is most reminiscent of the version that inspired it: Cat Power’s.
Guerrero mentions “Ms. Sanders” as a personal favorite on Come Home. The title of the song, in a move sure to inspire some nerd crushes, is an obscure Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference. But the song is a sort of delirious, allegorical rumination on loss, with Guerrero’s high, yearning voice lilting, “My hands, my hands, my hands, they don’t dig like they used to …”
Her voice often has a childlike quality—something she embraces.
“I kind of have a child’s voice, and I like it,” she says. “I think adulthood is really fucked-up. I always say my best friend is a recovering child, and I am, too.”