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USA TODAY Praises “Spooky, Supple Harmonies,” CMT Edge Offers Exclusive Premiere, As Red Molly Earns National And Regional Raves For ‘The Red Album’
USA TODAY Praises “Spooky, Supple Harmonies,” CMT Edge offers Exclusive Premiere, as Red Molly Earns National and Regional Raves for ‘The Red Album’
“As cinematic as it is involving, a wide-screen album from a group that has always impressed with its chops”
With their first-ever appearance in USA TODAY, a CMT Edge Exclusive Album Premiere, and concert reviewers left dazzled by the trio’s live performances, Red Molly continues to build a breakthrough year behind the growing success of ‘The Red Album’ and coverage of their relentless touring.
USA TODAY – Playlist Pick
By Elysa Gardner, 5/20/14
USA TODAY music critic Elysa Gardner highlights 10 intriguing tracks found in the week's listening.
Willow Tree, Red Molly - On The Red Album, the folk trio lends spooky, supple harmonies to a twangy revenge tale.
‘The Red Album’ is the band’s edgiest CD to date -- think ‘Mazzy Star with a twang,’ and you may get a sense of the ethereal, sometimes even unsettling quality the women evoke in the buzzworthy collection. Previously perceived as a straightforward three-part harmony Americana/Folk trio, the band takes a distinctive shift towards darkness with this acclaimed new indie release.
The trio, which celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2014, is comprised of Laurie MacAllister (bass,) Abbie Gardner (dobro,) and Molly Venter (guitar), and they are road warriors who regularly perform 100 or more concerts each year. An itinerary follows.
CMT EDGE – EXCLUSIVE Q&A and ALBUM PREMIERE By Craig Shelburne, 4/24/14
Red Molly Feels Blue on “You Don’t Have the Heart for It”
For 10 years, the trio Red Molly have been cultivating a folk audience across the U.S. and around the world. Now they’re approaching their second decade with The Red Album, a diverse collection that dips into classic country on “You Don’t Have the Heart for It.”
Lush harmonies are a hallmark of Red Molly, comprised of bassist Laurie MacAllister, Dobro player Abbie Gardner and guitarist Molly Ventner. The band’s name comes from a tantalizing character in Richard Thompson’s story-driven song, “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” which the trio recorded for The Red Album.
By email, Gardner tells CMT Edge she wrote “You Don’t Have the Heart for It” as part of a year-long exercise with fellow musicians.
“I was involved in a writing project called ‘Real Women Real Songs,’ where 14 women across the country committed themselves to writing and publicly sharing a song every week for a whole year,” she explains. “I’ve always been a fan of Hank Williams and that old classic country style, the melodies that go along with it and how a lonely song can feel pretty great to sing along with.”
A student of jazz and a fan of bluegrass, Gardner emphasizes that classic country has influenced the way she writes songs.
“It’s music that just feels good to sing and play,” she says. “The melodies really hook me, and classic country lyrics always seem like an old soft shoe — familiar, comforting and timeless.” Thanks to the nimble fingers of Adam Ollendorff, the steel guitar glides through the understated arrangement. “Ah, the pedal steel sound always feels like crying to me,” Gardner says. “I play Dobro in the band, but we needed something with more twang to it just to really bring out that lonely edge to the song. Adam did a beautiful job!”
By Nick DeRiso, 5/25/14
Over their first 10 years, Red Molly has developed a well-earned reputation for its engaging brand of Americana, one marked by gorgeous three-part harmonies and a meticulously upbeat, rootsy sound. The forthcoming Red Album, this trio’s first in Nashville and its first with Ken Coomer of Wilco fame, changes all of that.
Not that Abbie Gardner, Laurie MacAllister and Molly Venter don’t still lock voices with a graceful symmetry, or that they’ve left their dobro, bass and guitar at home. Instead, The Red Album — set for independent release on May 27, 2014 — absorbs all of those talents then offramps into a diaphanous, mystery-filled place. Rather than picking and grinning their way through an afternoon on a sun-flecked front porch, Coomer has them set up in the corner of dusky saloon. As he runs Gardner’s dobro through a series of evocative effects, it’s clear that this is a Red Molly album like no other.
Aptly compared to the eerie ruminations of Mazzy Star, but with a slight twang, The Red Album makes room for smart covers of “Homeward Bound” by Simon and Garfunkel and “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” by Richard Thompson. But originals like the opening “Clinch River,” with its oaken mystery, set the tone. It cracks the door into a new world, then closes it firmly behind you.
As stand-out tracks like “Willow Tree,” “When It’s All Wrong” and “Copper Ponies” go by, they surround you with whispered secrets and strange entreaties. The Red Album is as cinematic as it is involving, a wide-screen album from a group that has always impressed with its chops — but now displays a newfound vision beyond the genre restrictions that have always contained them.
ALBANY TIMES-UNION – CONCERT REVIEW By Greg Haymes, 5/18/14
Red Molly delivers again at venue's spring finale
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall wrapped up its spring season in fine fashion on Friday night with the return of Red Molly. No strangers to the Capital Region, the stellar female Americana trio has played quite a number of different venues in the area, but as bassist Laurie MacAllister noted as she surveyed the audience, "This might be the largest indoor crowd that we've ever played for."
It probably won't be for long, however...
After 10 years on the folk coffeehouse circuit, Red Molly is primed for bigger things, and if the new songs they played on Friday are any indication, their upcoming album – "The Red Album," due for release on May 27 – just might do the trick for them. It's the fifth album they've recorded in the decade since they first got together at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in nearby Hillsdale. The threesome – which also features dobro player Abbie Gardner and guitarist Molly Venter – was a sheer delight in concert at the Music Hall, garnering plenty of new fans, while exciting the devoted faithful with their new material. There's nothing fancy about Red Molly, but their subtle, understated music was oh so sublime. Instrumentally, they provided just enough firepower to support their exquisitely chosen arsenal of songs by like-minded acoustic artists from Darrell Scott ("With a Memory Like Mine"), Tim O'Brien ("Walk Beside Me") and Scottish folk fave Dougie MacLean ("Caledonia"). Anything more would have gotten in the way, because with Red Molly, it's all about the singing. And, boy, can these gals sing. Throughout two 50-minute sets on Friday, they constantly rotated the lead vocal chores. Gardner probably took the honors with Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" (the song that gave Red Molly their name) and the sultry "When It's All Wrong," but Venter wasn't far behind with her smoldering, finger-snapping treatment of the old Peggy Lee hit, "Fever," and her own "Shaky Ground," while MacAllister hit it out of the park with superb renditions of Billy Edd Wheeler's "Coal Tattoo" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound." But it was during the trio's tight ensemble harmony sections that they really shimmered in the spotlight, marrying smart arrangements with seemingly effortless singing. "We're like the Dixie Chicks," MacAllister noted. "But a lot less expensive." In truth they also resonated with echoes of fab female vocal groups from the Andrews Sisters to the Roches.
It would have been nice if they'd stepped away from the microphones to allow the natural acoustics of the Hall to work their magic on their pair of a cappella selections – "Dear Someone" and the encore of Susan Werner's uplifting "May I Suggest" – but as it was, the songs simply soared.
THE TROY RECORD – TOUR PREVIEW
By Dan Wilcock, 5/14/14
Red Molly steps up its game at Troy Music Hall Friday, May 16
Red Molly’s new CD, “The Red Album,” due out May 27, is going to surprise some of the fan base that comes to see them at Troy Music Hall Friday night, May 16.
Their sixth album in 10 years, it’s their first to be recorded in the mainstream country music capital of Nashville. It was produced by Ken Coomer, who is best known as the drummer in Wilco and Uncle Tupelo.
While Red Molly, Wilco and Uncle Tupelo all fall loosely into the category of Americana, Red Molly has always been more solidly traditional in its three-part vocal harmonies playing off Molly Venter’s acoustic guitar, Abbie Gardner’s dobro, and Laurie MacAllister’s bass. Wilco and Uncle Tupelo have always been edgier with strong rock elements. Coomer has brought those influences into Red Molly’s music for the first time on this album.
“Once or twice after tracking things (in the studio, we’d get) all excited. We’d be like, ‘Is this too much for people,’ ” says Molly Venter, who is not THE Molly of Red Molly. The trio’s name comes from the lyrics of a Richard Thompson song called “1952 Vincent Lightning,” which the band covers on the new CD. Besides, Molly Venter actually joined the trio as a replacement years after the band first formed under that name.
“We did have so much fun making the album that any little inkling of ‘Oooow! Are we going too far,’ we’d say, ‘Well, we’re not going too far for ourselves, and we’re slowly trying to integrate that sound into our stage act.’ I’m playing a little electric guitar, working with the stomp box. Abbie is getting some effects on her dobro, but we’re super slow in moving that into the live show because — well, just because we are,” Venter says.
I compare the difference in their sound this time to the evolution of Patsy Cline’s countrypolitan sound in 1953 to k.d. lang’s originals, which are practically an homage to Cline beginning in the ’90s. Yeah, it’s that significant a change. Some of the cuts are close enough to Loretta Lynn’s pop country songs of the ’70s to warrant comparison. Venter, however, admits to a Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac influence. As dramatic a change as it is, the always polished precision of this once traditional folk trio does make it all go down easy. These ladies remain smooth and their talent on traditional instruments is still amazing.
You might ask how can I see Red Molly in a k.d. lang context when Venter thinks of the group’s newer music as reflective of Fleetwood Mac. I’ve found that artists living within the eye of the hurricane that is a touring act often don’t recognize some of the biggest changes in their own evolution.
For instance, Venter sees the group as being in a “slow build.” Yet when they last played the Troy Music Hall almost two years ago to the day, they had never played an indoor venue as large. Now, they do it all the time. They’re currently on a 40-stop tour that includes a gig next week in Maryland at the Weinberg Center for the Arts that’s about the same size as the Troy Music Hall’s 1,120-seat capacity. In the last year, they’ve toured Australia and Denmark and opened two dates for Willie Nelson in Massachusetts. Their last album, “Light in The Sky,” was on the Americana Music Association’s Top 40 radio chart for 20 weeks.
As for the Willie Nelson gigs, Venter says, “They reached out to us. Not that Willie needs help selling tickets, but I guess in the Northeast we had enough of a buzz that (they put us in) two different venues in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is a big state for us. We play there a lot, and we have a big fan base there, so yeah, they reached out to us for that one.”
And if Red Molly is sounding more like Stevie Nicks than an Appalachian front porch jam, why not' “The recording process went pretty quickly,” Venter says. “We’d be like, ‘Abbie, let’s try putting your dobro through this effects pedal. Oh, that sounds great.’ And we’re like, ‘Let’s try this stomping sound. Oh, this is great.’ Our producer for sure has a reverence for acoustic music, but also liking a little bit more of the punch or the grittiness.”
VIRGINIAN-PILOT / HAMPTON ROADS – SHOW REVIEW/VIDEO INTERVIEW
By David Adam Beloff 4/30/14
RED MOLLY delivered pure Americana music to our Va Arts Festival
Last night's sold out RED MOLLY concert was nothing short of FANTASTIC! The trio performed two sets of gorgeous original music and cover songs. Their new album, "The Red Album" comes out next month and the songs I heard live last night that are on it are simply stunning. This band is one not to be missed!
I got the opportunity to chat with the lovely ladies of RED MOLLY right before they went on stage last night at our Virginia Arts Festival. Listen in on our interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch'v=mokiyTOThDg
THE RECORD-JOURNAL – CD REVIEW
By Jim Pasinski, 5/5/14
Acoustic folk trio Red Molly are celebrating their tenth anniversary with a new album and 40-date tour. The new album entitled "The Red Album" will be released on May 27th and should be considered one of the best new albums to discover in 2014. The thirteen-song release begins with the dark, clap-stomp beat of "Clinch River Blues" as you instantly notice how well their voices mesh together. They find their way to the country mainstream with "I'm Listening" and Red Molly should have you wrapped around their fingers with the gentle acoustic folk story of "Willow Tree." The trio turns "Homeward Bound" into a quiet plead to go back to what's familiar before treading again to the dark side with "When It's All Wrong." The fragile backdrop of "Sing to Me" continues to display the wonderful harmonizing between the band members. Their cover of Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lighting" is a folk gem, before closing the album with the two-minute accapella "Copper Ponies." Red Molly are currently on tour with their next stops in Scituate, MA and West Hartford, CT. They have U.S. dates scheduled all the way through to September before heading over to Europe, so do yourself a favor and catch these ladies live.
NIPPERTOWN – CONCERT REVIEW
LIVE: Red Molly @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 5/16/14
Review and photographs by Tim Mack
There is no justice.
If you’re the sort of music fan who reads Nippertown, you know this already. Talent, charisma and hard work don’t guarantee success, and plenty of artists lacking in those departments make the big-time through blind luck and clever management (and possibly questionable consumer taste).
Which brings us to Red Molly.
If you caught the Americana/bluegrass trio in their return to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall last Friday night, you probably felt lucky to see such an outsized talent in a comparatively modest venue. Bassist Laurie MacAllister noted it was likely the biggest indoor audience the band had ever played for. And somehow that didn’t seem right. Not that anyone was complaining, because the Hall’s famous acoustics seemed perfectly suited to these three pure voices.
MacAllister, Abbie Gardner (dobro) and Molly Venter (guitar) play music with a good ol’ country feel and a bigger sound than you’d expect from an easy-going trio. (Concert note: It’s always a good sign when the ushers are raving about the sound check while they lead you to your seat.) The first set saw a sampling of material off their 2011 studio release, Light in the Sky, as well as songs from their various solo records and the soon-to-be-released The Red Album, arriving officially next week (though copies arrived in Troy just in time for the show). Every song was a crowd-pleaser, but two covers were stand-outs: Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” and “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” Richard Thompson’s classic motorcycle ballad starring a tragic heroine named… Red Molly.Opening the second set with another cover – the Peggy Lee hit “Fever” – allowed the three to show off a more soulful side. It also made you ask: Shouldn’t it be harder to sing harmonies that clear, tight and strong' But they made it look and sound effortless all night. No Auto-Tune needed here.
The touring sisterhood was very much at ease between songs as well, with light self-effacing comedy pitch-perfect for a receptive audience. They could do no wrong and did no wrong. And knowing they had the audience captivated, Red Molly had the confidence to close the night with an a cappella, tear-jerking version of Susan Werner’s “May I Suggest.”
So if there’s justice in the music business, the next time Red Molly comes to town they’ll be playing at a sold-out Times Union Center or maybe to a Phish-sized crowd at SPAC. But if they aren’t, that’s all right with them. MacAllister said people often ask about how the band defines success for themselves. Her answer in Troy was essentially this: “If we played for a crowd like this every night, we’d be very happy.” The same could be said for the people in the seats.
EXYSTENCE – CD REVIEW – 5/12/14 http://www.bloglovin.com/viewer'post=2793529329&group=0&frame_type=a&blog=3492993&frame=1&click=0&user=0
Red Molly have left a significant mark on the Americana landscape over the past decade, in part because they’re so interested in musical styles that are distant cousins of folk and roots music. Whether sassy, somber or subdued, each of the trio’s tracks is a genuine surprise. Just when you think you’ve figured out Laurie MacAllister, Abbie Gardner and Molly Venter, they throw a curveball in the form of a lyric, a harmony or an instrument you weren’t even aware they played. The Red Album is an excellent example of their power to baffle and excite. At various points you’re treated to folk (“I Am Listening”), Americana (“Clinch River Blues”), country (“You Don’t have the Heart for It”) and rock (“Lay Down Your Burden”), and that’s just the start of the fun. The ominous mood of their spaghetti western-style guitar work on “When It’s All Wrong” is augmented by chilling harmonies, and the vocals on the a cappella closer “Copper Ponies” are likely to transport your imagination to a nighttime campfire in the middle of a wide-open prairie. The latter seems made for the transition from early spring to the loveliest part of the summer.
ISTHMUS DAILY PAGE – TOUR PREVIEW
By Brian Palmer, 4/8/14 http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php'article=42459
Americana trio Red Molly reveal one surprise after another on The Red Album
Red Molly have left a significant mark on the Americana landscape over the past decade, in part because they're so interested in musical styles that are distant cousins of folk and roots music. Whether sassy, somber or subdued, each of the trio's tracks is a genuine surprise. Just when you think you've figured out Laurie MacAllister, Abbie Gardner and Molly Venter, they throw a curveball in the form of a lyric, a harmony or an instrument you weren't even aware they played.
The Red Album, a new record they'll present at their April 11 show at the Stoughton Opera House, is an excellent example of their power to baffle and excite. At various points you're treated to folk ("I Am Listening"), Americana ("Clinch River Blues"), country ("You Don't have the Heart for It") and rock ("Lay Down Your Burden"), and that's just the start of the fun. The ominous mood of their spaghetti western-style guitar work on "When It's All Wrong" is augmented by chilling harmonies, and the vocals on the a cappella closer "Copper Ponies" are likely to transport your imagination to a nighttime campfire in the middle of a wide-open prairie. The latter seems made for the transition from early spring to the loveliest part of the summer.
The group's 2011 album, Light in the Sky, is full of inventiveness, too. Shades of honky-tonk color their version of the Buddy and Julie Miller classic "Does My Ring Burn Your Finger," while their jazzy take on the Otis Blackwell and Eddie Cooley song "Fever" is so sultry that it might set off the fire alarms in the Opera House.
The ladies' multi-instrumental abilities are also a thing of wonder, especially when you see them perform live. Not only does each of them play acoustic guitar, but MacAllister knows her way around a banjo and Gardner is handy with the dobro and lap-steel guitar. Pair these skills with their three-part harmonies, and you have the sonic equivalent of a tractor beam.
More about the project:
From the haunting opener, ‘Clinch River,’ to the classic vibe of ‘I Am Listening,’ to the cinematic lyrics of ‘Willow Tree’ to the stunning ‘When It's All Wrong’ and ‘Copper Ponies’, ‘The Red Album’ (digital release was April 1 and physical release is May 27) is full of meaty, meaningful tracks — ‘Sing to Me’ feels like an ‘adult lullaby’…and the band’s cover of ‘Homeward Bound’ is simply gorgeous...and then of course they switch up the pace completely with ‘Pretend’...
The new CD marks the trio’s first Nashville-produced album with Ken Coomer (original drummer for Wilco & Uncle Tupelo). Coomer shook things up sonically, putting Abbie Gardner's dobro through effects for a few songs. He also had Molly Venter use six different guitars on the album - including an electric. Guest artist, bassist Craig Akin funked things up as well – and the overall result is a grittier sonic landscape, juxtaposed with Red Molly's signature pristine three-part harmonies. Coomer also pushed for more original material than previous records -- eight original songs made the cut; four written by Venter & four by Gardner. The band also continues their long tradition of honoring other songwriters, with MacAllister on lead vocal for four covers, including Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Homeward Bound'. Plus, after years of fan requests, the band recorded their namesake song ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning,’ by Richard Thompson.
Red Molly has been featured by American Songwriter, No Depression, Bluegrass Unlimited and more. They have an engaged, supportive fan base and regularly sell out venues ranging from Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, CA to City Winery in NYC. The trio toured Australia & Denmark in 2013, and are headed to Ireland & the UK in 2014.
They were recently featured in The Boston Globe:
Red Molly Tour Dates:
June 6, 2014 The Center for Arts in Natick Natick MA
June 12, 2014 City Winery Napa CA
June 13, 2014 Livermore Valley PAC Livermore CA
June 20, 2014 City Winery New York NY
June 22, 2014 Katherine Hepburn Theater Old Saybrook CT
July 18, 2014 Tri Lakes Center for the Arts Palmer Lake CO
July 19, 2014 Aspen Camp for the Deaf Snowmass CO
July 24, 2014 Red Ants Pants Festival White Sulphur Springs MT
August 23-24, 2014 Tumbleweed Festival Garden City KS
September 6, 2014 CT Folk Festival New Haven CT
September 19, 2014 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Festival Bristol TN
October, 2014 Ireland/UK tour
Updated tour activity, here: http://redmolly.com/tour.html
More about the band:
Since 2004, Americana trio Red Molly has been bringing audiences to their feet with gorgeous three-part harmonies, crisp musicianship, and their warm, engaging stage presence. The band consists of Laurie MacAllister (bass,) Abbie Gardner (dobro,) and Molly Venter (guitar). In 2013, the ladies were invited to open multiple shows for music legend Willie Nelson and they performed at the venerable RockyGrass festival in CO. Their last CD "Light in the Sky" spent 20 weeks on the Americana Music Association's Top 40 radio chart and charted as Folk DJ's #3 Top Album of 2012. In 2013, the band toured throughout Australia, and, for the first time, also performed at Denmark's Tonder Festival. They were also invited to appear for the third time at NC's legendary music gathering, MerleFest. They also made a fourth appearance at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, where in September 2012 the Bristol Herald Courier dubbed Red Molly "The Twin City's sweethearts", saying the band "lit up the stage, as a massive crowd of adoring fans sat mesmerized by their silky smooth harmonies and superb musicianship." Read the expanded bio, as well as individual band member bios, here: http://redmolly.com/bio.html