MOLLY MAHER – Follow (Real Phonic Records)

FollowMolly Maher’s Follow is a folk album that, to quote the great Vin Garbutt, is “Tossin’ a Wobbler”.

Now, Louie Perez of Los Lobos said of the record, “She combines simplicity and heartfelt melody and creates something that is equally haunting and hypnotic. I can’t stop listening. Bravo!”. Now (again!), that’s the very same Louie Perez (more about whom later!) who said, when I asked for autographs before a Milwaukee Summerfest show, that the band would sign anything after the concert. He kept his word and met, as promised, and took my earnest fan’s signature requests for Kiko and Latin Playboys. That’s aces in my book. So, trust his judgment with this one!

The opening instrumental, ‘Jango’, is the stuff of western film scores. Sage brushes blow melodically across the Americana landscape, the percussion clip-clops, an organ swells with horizon colours, while an electric guitar plays sepia notes that conjure a saloon barkeep’s mustached “sunken waltz” glance, circa frontier America in Deadwood, South Dakota. The great band Calexico drinks from the same Feast Of Wire rye whiskey bottle.

Then, two folk songs grace the grooves. ‘Run Run Run’ is catchy acoustic stuff that sings into the synapses of the brain. ‘Pale Face River’ has a deeper river bed source that echoes the sound of (the very great) Kasey Chambers.

Ah – but then the “wobbler” is “tossed”. ‘Open Road’ is a funky grooved tune with voices and electronica bubbling like friendly lava beneath the main pulse of the song. ‘Stormcloud’ gets dramatic with biblical imagery and stretches into a bluesy halo. Spooky ghosts can dance to this tune. And, quite frankly, it covers the same torrid emotional contours as Richard Thompson’s recent ‘The Storm Won’t Come’. ‘Bird Song (I’ll Follow You)’ is a comfy folk song with a filtered vocal that gets acoustically weird and beautiful with (sometimes Spanish) vocals. ‘Go Slow’ gets even more groove/jam street corner pulsed that recalls the vibe of the Los Lobos spin off band The Latin Playboys (Thank you David Hidalgo and Louie Perez!) who played a weird and wonderful sound from the Hispanic American soul that twists, bends, and bumps with dance steps from a really cool (and advanced) parallel musical universe.

And Follow cuts an equally nice rug with oddball dancefloor (sometimes funky) swank.

By the way, during the long-ago Summerfest Los Lobos show, Louie Perez stepped to center stage and fronted the band’s version of Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl’. And that is, even after all these years, still aces in my book.

‘Someday Somebody’ is a slow and muddy “mystery dance” of a song that continues to ask the important Carly Simon question as to whom, exactly, is “so vain’; or in this case, an unnamed someone, who “someday”, will be “figured out”. Thank you, karma!

‘On The 18’ is a spooky voiced and wobbled graveyard confession spiked with enough aged alcohol that can whisper, among other things, the mention of our collective original sin. This is deep sea diver pressure suited stuff.

‘Find The Shepard’ simply walks the stately promenade (along the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River!) and sings with religious purity and the breath of folk rock that wanders like a big glance into the starry and very patient Midwestern night sky.

So, welcome to a very strange, melodic and oddball folk album. Los Lobos guy Louie Perez says the record “is equally haunting and hypnotic”. Sure. But Follow dances to old Mississippi River melodies that manage, with an aged and still wonderfully venerable song, to flow into the modern currents of a pretty hip folk rock record.

Bill Golembeski

Artist’s website:

‘Run Run Run’ – official video:

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