Love and Other Tragedies
4 stars (out of 5)
Red Molly is an all-female trio of very talented folks based out of Stony Point, N.Y. that have put together an extremely entertaining project called Love and Other Tragedies.
Although this CD isn’t exactly in my musical wheelhouse it is an excellent project with great use of vocal harmonies as well as a good variety of material ranging from Melissa Monroe’s “Is the Blue Moon Still Shining” to Gillian Welch’s “Wichita”.
Five of the thirteen songs on this project were written by band members Laurie MacAllister, Abbie Gardner and Carolann Solebello and they stand up well along side songs written by other, more recognized songwriters. As singers, these ladies show that they can handle up tempo tunes as well as slow contemplative ballads with equal ease.
The ladies are ably accompanied on this project by Jake Armerding on fiddle, Duke Levine on mandola and electric guitar and lap steel, and Mike Weatherly on bass, with some vocal help from Anthony da Costa, Fred Gillen Jr. and Steve Kirkman.
“Wichita” is an excellent song to open the CD as it shows the difference between the use of mandola as opposed to mandolin. The mandola is a much more weighty instrument and gives the whole CD a darker tone with much more low end.
“Beaumont Rest Stop,” written by Laurie MacAllister, is all about leaving home when you really don’t want to and coming home when you have to. “The Mind Of A Soldier,” written by Abbie Gardner is a ballad of longing for the soldier gone to war and the need for a man, hopefully the right one.
“Summertime” is Carolann Solebello’s contribution to the songwriting aspect of the CD and is a reflection on home and the simple life as opposed to something more complicated.
Melissa Monroe’s “Is the Blue Moon Still Shining” has a Laurie Lewis-like sound to it, which isn’t a bad thing at all. The Dobro is particularly effective in this piece and the harmonies make for a very smooth presentation.
“Honey on My Grave” is another Abbie Gardner written song and, to mind, speaks of getting earned respect.
“Old Dancin’ Fool” is an old fashioned waltz type tune that has a nice flow and the laziness of it all is very relaxing, with the song suggesting that we “close our eyes and hold to each other” and everything will be OK.
“Sentimental Gentleman from Georgia” is a strong swing tune with a bluesy turn that makes good use of vocals and the mandola fits it very well.
“Wayfaring Stranger” is traditional song that has been arranged a hundred different ways but this arrangement, although not a lot different from most, has a haunting sound with the mandolin backed by the lap steel and fiddle.
“This Farm Needs A Man,” written by Laurie MacAllister is all about the trials and tribulations of men gone off to war and the woman doing the “best I can” under the circumstances.
“Make Me Lonely Again” is about the plight of the wallflower who finds a mate and wishes that she could return to the wallflower life where she was happily lonely and didn’t realize it.
“Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning” is a very old song that may have been first recorded by Rev. Gary Davis. In the bluegrass genre it is probably best know by Hot Rize ,but Red Molly does a credible job in keeping the lamp trimmed and burning in anticipation of the returning of the Lord.
“May I Suggest” is an a cappella number that is an apt ending to the CD as it features the honey sweet vocals of Red Molly.
All in all this is a very strong performance and certainly deserves a listen. A solid four stars out of five.
by Charlie W. Hansen