Red Molly has always been known for their rich harmonies. With the release of their third recording, Love and Other Tragedies, Red Molly presents a richly textured tapestry of American roots music and their most mature work yet.
Red Molly’s two previous recordings, a self-titled EP (2005) and their live CD, Never Been to Vegas (2006) both collected rave reviews for their delightful harmonies. Red Molly consists of three women–Laurie MacAllister (guitar and banjo), Abbie Gardner (guitar and dobro), and Carolann Solebello (guitar, bass guitar and mandolin)–whose vocals and instrument playing sound as if they have been perfected over a lifetime rather than a mere handful of years.
With the release of Love and Other Tragedies, however, both the sound and the lyrics have matured. The songs demonstrate the band’s mastery of a range of musical genres–gospel, bluegrass, country blues, and Dixieland jazz–and the music and vocals sound tighter than ever.
The music is so good that one may not notice the lyrics at first, but the lyrics are worth mentioning, especially as they include more original songs than the previous recordings. Most of the songs are stories told by and about women: widows, prodigal daughters, and hardworking farm women. The emotional range of Red Molly’s lyrics are impressive, whether it is the haunting “The Mind of a Soldier,” about a military wife separated from her soldier husband by emotional distance as much as physical miles, or “Make Me Lonely Again,” told with a tough take-it-or-leave-it attitude which only serves to underscore the speaker’s vulnerability.
There are songs of wistful sweetness, also, including the old-fashioned-sounding “Is the Blue Moon Still Shining?” and the lively “Sentimental Gentleman from Georgia”. The tune which lingers longest, however, is the a cappella “May I Suggest,” a song which evokes both heartache and hope and sounds the perfect closing note on this superb CD.
The only down side to Love and Other Tragedies is the long wait for the next Red Molly recording (although die-hard Red Molly fans might wish to check out Abbie Gardner’s 2008 duet CD with Anthony da Costa, Bad Nights/Better Days).
Love and Other Tragedies is available from Red Molly’s Web site which also includes tour dates, a tour diary, and information about merchandise and the Red Molly mailing list, and Amazon.com, which also offers individual tracks as MP3 downloads.
(Red Molly, 2008)