Red Molly / Layah Jane opens me and thee coffeehouse
me and thee coffeehouse Marblehead, MA
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Red Molly / Layah Jane opens me and thee coffeehouse
"Make room, Roches and Wailin' Jennys, Red Molly has earned a place among the elite female trios." -John Platt, WFUV
If one word describes the new Red Molly CD, Light in the Sky, that word is joyous. Once again, with the "tick-tight arrangements, crystalline vocals and caramel harmonies" that the Boston Globe praised, Red Molly creates an album with gorgeous a cappella ballads, bluegrass-tinged folk and a touch of jazzy western swing, all done up in Red Molly's trademark three-part harmonies, signature dobro licks and inventive arrangements. The title sets the theme for the 14 tracks: optimism, joy, and excitement for the future.
Red Molly knows about optimism and joy. The band's fans, referred to as "RedHeads", have always responded to the sense that the band is a group of friends, sharing songs in their living room. That's exactly how it felt in 2004 when Laurie MacAllister (guitar, banjo, bass), Abbie Gardner (dobro, guitar) and Carolann Solebello (guitar, bass) sat around a campfire at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, singing and talking about their favorite songwriters. Knowing they had stumbled into something extraordinary, they formed Red Molly and spent the next seven years on the road.
From the start, the trio got attention with their lively, engaging stage performances. They moved quickly from NYC coffeehouses to the festival circuit in less than two years, winning notices for their performances at Merlefest, the Philadephia Folk Festival, and NPR's Mountain Stage. Between knocking out audiences from coast to coast, the trio found time to record three albums: Never Been to Vegas in 2006; 2008's Love and Other Tragedies, which spent ten weeks in the Top 15 on the Americana Chart, and 2010's James which logged four months in the Top 40 on the Americana Chart, peaking at #4, and landing at #23 in the year's Top 100. Last year, when founding member Carolann Solebello stepped down, MacAllister and Gardner asked Austin-based singer songwriter and guitarist Molly Venter to join the band. "Molly has a unique, edgy tone to her voice," MacAllister says. "Her sound is a bit pop-oriented, and while it hasn't changed our overall sound, I'd say it's a bit more gutsy, upbeat and modern."
Light in the Sky is Red Molly's first release with the newest Molly. The trio, with engineer Mark Dann at the helm, collectively produced the album. Red Molly's instrumental prowess, sparkling harmonies and strong lead vocals of the individual members are evident throughout. The band also showcases their songwriting expertise with three solid original tunes and an inventive re-imagining of Robert Johnson's "Come On in My Kitchen". Gardner's co-write with Jonathan Byrd, "Oh My Michael", sounds like a traditional Irish ballad. Her dobro adds to the song's haunted sound, while her poignant lead vocal is remarkable for its subdued emotion. Abbie and her father Herb Gardner wrote "Hello Goodbye", a fun, funky tune with a hint of ragtime. The group's harmonies suggest the 40's swing of The Andrews Sisters. Venter's "Hold It All" is a grown-up lullaby, both graceful and insightful. Gardner tweaks Johnson's "Come On in My Kitchen" by adding a bridge that ups the song's emotional ante and by rewriting the lyric to make it a story of women supporting each other.
The group also puts their stamp on a collection of fine cover tunes. The album's opener, "Dear Someone", is a Gillian Welch/David Rawlings tune, given an impressive a cappella reading. The girls tip their hat twice to singer songwriter Mark Erelli, delivering a stunning cover of his power ballad "Ghost", and a fun rendition of his tongue-in-cheek "Why Should I Cry". Buddy and Julie Miller's "Does My Ring Burn Your Finger" gets an acoustic honky tonk treatment with MacAllister's teardrop-in-the-throat vocal. "Fever", the Otis Blackwell/Eddie Cooley classic, features Venter at her finest in a performance that is both cool and sultry, supported by Craig Akin's upright bass and the trio's snapping fingers. In addition to Gardner and Akin, Red Molly is joined in the studio by Ben Wittman on percussion and Jake Armerding on fiddle and mandolin.
"We were in an optimistic mood going into the studio and I think that comes across in the music," Gardner concludes. "The album title could be about the sun, the stars, or looking forward to a bright future." Venter adds: "We're having so much fun as a band right now. We're excited to see what happens next!" Light in the Sky was released on October 4, 2011. Red Molly is currently gathering material for their next CD, to be released in 2014.
------------- Layah Jane
"A spine chilling talent..." ~ Toronto Star
"...Funky-Jazzy-Reggae conscious Folk-Pop that enters your ear like cotton candy melts on your tongue." ~ Northeast In Tune Magazine
"With a voice that's both sweet and rich, and a delicious, deep-groove approach, Toronto artist Layah Jane has found her sound and honey's the word for it....Folk flavours with a soul feel..." ~ Roots Music Canada
Speaking courageous and tender to the hungry hearts of poets, activists, and lovers alike, Folk songstress Layah Jane is the shy one with head-turning presence; the tall one with the bright smiling eyes, tangled curls, and dancing hips. She is a velvet-voiced tunesmith of clever, conscientious Canadiana that seeps into the soul.
With a poetic and political conscience from teenage years rocking to Ani Difranco, tender vocal phrasing from pressing walkman earphones spouting Sarah McLachlan into her middle-school ears, and an instinctive understanding of harmony and rhythm from in utero exposure to her parents' Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, Sade, and Kate Bush records, Layah Jane has studied the grand dames of her musical lineage, and has discovered and developed her own spirited voice.
Layah began crafting songs in her early teens, and has bewitched listeners ever since. Don't be distracted by the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award, the Ontario Independent Music Awards for Best Folk and Best Female Artist, the Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Jazz, or the songwriting award for Best Political Song at the Ontario Council of Folk Festival's conference. Resonance bowls over award plaques, and melody sticks stronger than boastful bios or promises from strangers: You won't be disappointed. You'll hum like a bee with Honey...
Honey is Layah Jane's fan-funded third full-length release. Producer/guitarist/composer and longtime collaborator Oliver Johnson was at the helm again, guiding a co-creative process that resulted in a collection of songs that feature the tenderness, intelligence, and warmth of Layah's Folk/Soul. Honey collaborators include Drew Birston on electric and upright bass (Chantal Kreviazuk, Sultans of String, Amanda Martinez), Davide Direnzo on drums and percussion (Holly Cole, Hawksley Workman, Feist), Scott Galloway on keys (Matt York, Nine Mile), and Brian MacMillan on electric guitars and banjitar (Kevin Hearn, Barenaked Ladies), among others.
With 5 recordings released in 7 years on the independent Grace Note Records, (Honey in 2011, Brightness & Bravery in 2008, Patience EP in 2007, and Grievance & Gratitude and Grievance & Gratitude Remixes in 2005), Layah's prolific and passionate songwriting is carving her the kind of music career that is fruitful and long-haul steady.
The web of self-booked tours that Layah and Oliver embark on criss-cross North America. They add more miles to their little car than the mechanic cares to count, scarf down more almonds and apples than the average touring vegetarian rockstar can stand, and meet many a beaming, cheering audience along the way.
The magical silence that holds potent soft notes together and sets roaring ones apart is Oliver Johnson's guitar specialty. With R&B rhythm dirty from his years on the road with Canada's forefront soul and funk players, and melodic intuition from his Jazz college background and 12 bar Blues-tinged childhood, Oliver adeptly plays the range between subtle and raucous, with emotive atmosphere and blistering solo leads. His sensitive and soulful accompaniment is integral to the dynamic of Layah's live and recorded work. Their onstage chemistry: electric. The product: palpable joy.
Lucky for those in the path of Honey's sweetness, 2013 will see Layah Jane sing her way down the highway once again.
me and thee coffeehouse (View)
28 Mugford St
Marblehead, MA 01945