Jackson C. Frank was never one to write happy songs, but the pain and anger that linger in Marlene are still unique. It was written 22 years after the death of the girl he dated when he was 11 years old. She was killed in a furnace explosion that would leave Frank severely injured. Instead of a wistful remembrance of the young love, it’s a literal tale of haunting. Her lonely ghost will not leave him alone. Even at that young age, he looks back on her as his true love. After more than two decades, the scars of her death and his inability to save her feel fresh. The melodic vocals of Frank’s early work have here been replaced by a rasping cry. The guitar is harsh and paranoid, representing the inescapable grief and guilt of the loss. Yet Frank is equally unwilling to move on as he is unable, despite being beset with this agonizing apparition. Marlene is the sound of someone broken and trapped by the past.