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CD Review: Red Molly 

click to enlarge 2009, Independent
  • 2009, Independent

Since its inception, Stony Point-based trio Red Molly has wowed audiences with rich three-part harmonies that are amply exemplified on the group’s all-covers, live-in-a-room 2006 debut Never Been To Vegas (Independent). The follow-up, Love and Other Tragedies, finds multi-instrumentalists Laurie MacAllister, Abbie Gardner, and Carolann Solebello upping the ante by enlisting producer Ben Wisch (Marc Cohn, Patty Larkin) and adding their acclaimed originals to an already-potent mix of Americana chops and showfolk gumption. The result? Love and Other Tragedies has just the right amount of spit and polish to move these highway women from the Motel 6 to the Radisson, while still retaining their coffeehouse charm.

In the original song department, it appears they’ve been holding out on us: Gardner’s aching “The Mind of a Soldier” (a winner of the 2008 John Lennon Songwriting Contest), Solebello’s celebratory “Summertime,” and MacAllister’s bluesy “Beaumont Truck Stop” easily hold their own alongside Gillian Welch’s rollicking “Wichita” and timeless chestnuts “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning.”

Themes of loneliness and of returning to family are all over this collection, but as much as these women love the two-lane blacktop that leads them homeward, they clearly live to get back out on the circuit and tear it up. A stunning a cappella rendition of the Susan Werner hymn “May I Suggest” closes the album with the line “May I suggest these are the best days of your life?” For Red Molly, it sure looks that way. www.redmolly.com.

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