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Marnie Stern and her 'Chronicles'

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Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

Go ahead and call Marnie Stern an overnight sensation if you want, but just know that you're not correct.

The New York-raised Stern was always a music fan, but never really thought about making her own until she was in her early 20s. Since then she's gained a loyal hipster following, which is expected to grow even stronger now that her latest album, "Chronicles of Marnia," received such positive reviews from publications as the Village Voice to Pitchfork.

"It is a long, long process and takes years of slowly, slowly taking baby steps, very slowly developing a style," she said, noting her first entree into music was as a songwriter. "I just started using a guitar to help that happen."

It's easy to understand that the writing came first, even though Stern's guitar work earned her the moniker "the lady who shreds." Her songs are akin to short stories that walk listeners through what one can only think are her own personal struggles with relevance and her own evolution.

Onstage
Marnie Stern
» Where: Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW
» When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
» Info: $13; 1-877-725-8849; ticketalternative.com

"I was the most uncreative child you can imagine," she said. "I just watched TV all the time. I didn't even watch cartoons. I had no idea about fantasy," she said. "I was just really jaded from a young age. I didn't really tap into creativity until I was in my 20s."

Perhaps it was a routine office job that set her artistic muse free, but she talks about coming home from her office and spending hours and hours working on her music. In fact, despite the love from critics, she is still tinkering. She talks about her new album and how she unwound her previously dense song structure for these tracks.

"I always gravitate toward interweaving and a more abrasive sound," she said. "I was working with Nicholas Vernhes from Rare Book Room Recording in Brooklyn, and he was the producer. He wanted my voice clearer and fewer guitar parts. I tried it because I wanted to try something different."

That's not to say that Stern's trademark guitar work isn't evident, but her voice plays a more prominent role than it did in her earlier work.

"I get worried that I am coming across as someone who thinks they are a 'singer,' as opposed to my usual mishmash of voices that aren't always in key," she said. "I grapple with that attitude because I think it's important as a musician to try and be as proficient as possible, or try to put a lot of work into it. I suppose, in my own way, I put a ton of time into singing and trying to find interesting melody ideas, I just never think of myself as having a 'nice' voice."

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