Red Molly are the talented trio of Laurie MacAllister, Abbie Gardner and Molly Venter. All three are strong singers who take turns on both lead and harmony vocals. It is this blend of voices that gives them their uniqueness. They are ably help to achieve this by producer Ken Coomer (formally percussionist for Uncle Tupelo and Wilco) who makes sure those voices are accompanied by some fine playing. Coomer is the right drummer to give these songs a strong rhythmic pulse that makes them stand out from other, more acoustic-based, female combos.
They all started out as individual singers/songwriters who got together at a festival in 2004. Molly Venter joined the band following the departure of original member Carolann Solebello and has been with them now for three previous albums, this being their fifth album.
The material is a mix of original songs from Venter and Gardner along with well chosen songs such as Paul Simon’s Homeward Bound, Darrell and Wayne Scott’s With A Memory Like Mine and Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightening - the song from which they derived their band name after the ‘Red Molly’ featured in the song.
Red Molly prove themselves to be able players as well as excellent vocalists. Gardner adds some effective electric dobro to the opening song Clinch River Blues. She plays dobro on several tracks and piano, as does McAllister, along with acoustic guitar. The different writers and lead vocalist add variety, but there is still an easily identifiable group sound. The pedal steel on You Don’t Have the Heart For It, is as country as they get, but the instrumentation means they never stray too far from a folk or folk rock setting, and the occasional bluegrass overtone, throughout.
Red Molly have delivered an album they can justifiably feel proud of, and the listener is bound to find their own favourites as there is much here to enjoy. For this writer With a Memory Like Mine, You Don’t Have the Heart For It and 1952 Vincent Black Lightening and the unaccompanied closer Copper Ponies are all tracks I will happily return to.