Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Mollie Venter’ Category

I have been listening to Richard Thompson for decades, so I am probably pre-disposed to like a group called Red Molly – it’s the name of the woman in “Vincent Black Lightning, 1952,” the song that Thompson describes as “a love story complicated by a motorcycle.” However, although the name was what first drew my attention, I quickly learned to appreciate the group for its harmonies and musicianship, as well as its versatile selection of materials.

Red Molly consists of three women: Abbie Gardner, Laurie McAllister, and, more recently Mollie Venter, who joined the group in 2010 when Carolann Solebello moved on. In both incarnations, the group characterizes itself as playing Americana – meaning everything from traditional folk songs to blues and country, along with its members’ own compositions. The band takes full advantage of its versatility, its members harmonizing on everything from poignant ballads to rock, and alternating on vocals and guitar. Gardner often adds a unique sound by playing the dobro, often in genres other than the bluegrass with which most people associate it, and the other members have also been known to pick up other instruments such as the bass and banjo.

Perhaps half the band’s material is covers, many of which rival the original, including a version of “Vincent Black Lightning 1952.” Their other covers include an arrangement of “Homeward Bound” that captures the yearning homesickness of the original, and a rocking version of Lucinda William’s “Can’t Let Go.” Their version of Darrell Scott’s “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” is especially chilling, more than enough to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

However, I am equally fond of their original songs. Venter’s “I am Listening” is a sweet, understated description of the early stages of love,” while in her “Willow Tree,” the tree becomes the symbol of a long-term relationship’s joys and sorrows. McAllister’s original songs, such as “This Farm Needs a Man” are equally memorable, although to my taste she does not write nearly enough of them. However, the most prolific in the current lineup is Abbie Gardner, whose solo albums not only show a fondness for old reinterpreting blues standards like “Ain’t Misbehaving” and “Comes Love,” but also the ability to write songs like “Break It Slow” and “Bang Bang” that mix so indistinguishably with such standards that they might have been written in the same era. Gardner also writes in a more introspective style in “The Mind of a Soldier” and the wistful “Copper Ponies.”

I didn’t plan for Red Molly to become one of current listening favorites, but the more I heard, the more I liked, until I now own eleven of their group and solo albums, and am intending to buy more. In particular, I still have more of Venter’s solo albums to enjoy. No doubt the fact that many of their songs are available in .flac format helps, because I can hear them to best advantage. Yet even without that audio advantage, the way their voices blend and the variety in their songs would easily keep me listening.


Advertisements

Read Full Post »