Once upon a time, there were magical places called record stores. You could go there and browse through the records and CDs (and yes, cassettes) of artists from any genre (depending, of course, on how good a selection the record store had). In these magical places you would find a section for each genre, but there was always a section labeled MISC. for those albums that didn’t fit neatly into one category. And if you were a record aficionado, you knew there was some good stuff to be found in the miscellaneous section if you searched hard enough.
It’s fair to say that Molly Maher’s new album follow would be in that miscellaneous section because there isn’t any one section where it neatly fits. That being said, if you found it there, you would know you had found a gem.
The album begins with “Jango”, and it gives you a taste of just how hard it will be to classify this album. There is some flamenco influence in the acoustic guitar and percussion. Meanwhile, the electric guitar sounds like something out of a spaghetti western and the organ that underlies the song recalls Booker T and The MGs. Keep in mind that’s just the first song. It goes on from there.
It doesn’t take a long time to realize that Maher has a vocal similarity to Sheryl Crow Frankly, it’s perfect for the songs like “Run Run Run” that have an alt-country leaning.
Then there’s “Open Road.” This is just one great example of why this album would likely land in the miscellaneous section of a record store. This one has kind of a free melody, meaning that it doesn’t seem to follow any particular structure. The vocals are fairly soulful, but the instrumentation is something you might expect from an avant-garde artist like Marc Ribot. Meanwhile, there are Spanish vocals in the background that come in short bursts as opposed to a steady stream.
If you want a succinct summary of this album, you could say that it exists at the crossroads of alt-country, rock, soul, and world music. The latter of those comes through mostly in the Spanish vocals and the tablas that lend an Indian sound to songs like “StormCloud.” Granted, that’s a pretty broad musical map, but this album won’t be confined to any small area. The sound changes not only from one song to the next, but from verse to chorus or even from one instrument to another within the same song. This album is filled with brilliantly textured songs that may not be easy to classify, but sure are easy to appreciate. Follow will be available everywhere on June 12. Order your copy here.
Molly Maher – guitar, vocals
Erik Koskinen – electric guitars
Paul Bergen – baritone guitar, electric guitar
Josh Gravelin – bass, vocals
Noah Levy – drums
James Anton – bass
JT Bates – drums
Gabriela Sweet – guitar
Todd Clouser – electric guitar, vocals
Chris Bates – upright bass
Krissy Bergmark – tablas
James Tyler O’Neil – organ
Steve Murray – bass (band member who doesn’t play on this album)
Richard Medek – drums (band member who doesn’t play on this album)
Produced by Molly Maher and Erik Koskinen
Engineered and mixed by Erik Koskinen at Real Phonic Studios
Mastered by Tom Garneau at AudioActive
Album art by Dan Miggler, Noiseland Industries