Since moving to Nashville in 2013, Jonesboro, Georgia native Molly Parden has gradually established herself as a rising force with which to be reckoned. As a guitarist, bassist and singer, she’s done time in the backing bands of Austin’s David Ramirez, Southern California’s Sam Outlaw and Atlanta’s Faye Webster, and she’s contributed harmony vocals to over 50 records. A series of short, scattered digital releases came in the wake of her 2011 debut CD, Time Is Medicine, but the six-song EP Rosemary, dropping on Nov. 13th, has the feel of a true follow-up – not to mention the sort of recording that should by all rights bring her a throng of new devotees.
The opening song, “Feel Alive Again,” builds subtly, with gently rippling acoustic guitar (played here by Parden) joined in short order by hushed drums and bass (Tommy Perkinson and co-producer Juan Solorzano, respectively) before Parden’s sublime voice blossoms in unblemished radiance. Ben Kaufman’s violin lends an uneasy undercurrent in its intermittent swoops. The layers build delicately until the three-minute mark where there’s an electric, percussive breakthrough before receding just as swiftly, retreating with the song itself. For “Kitchen Table,” a mid-tempo palpitation contrasts with scenes of emotional breakdown. “Who Are We Kiddin’” shuffles along at a near-jaunty pace, keyboards (Matthew Wright) keeping the lift of the violin and Caleb Hickman’s saxophone bursts from alighting too high – who are we kiddin’, after all? It’s a record marked by honest, unflinching accounts of love, devotion, loss and implosion, primarily the latter two.
As lonesome as the lyrical content can be, however, there’s an aspect of timeless singer-songwriter pop here that, when married with Parden’s disarming voice, results in stirring magic. The starker songs (“Within a Dream,” for instance) are intimate and haunting, while the more fleshed-out arrangements of other songs – such as the closing cut, “These Are the Times,” in which Parden’s resonant voice floats amid a lazy drum loop and misty electric hum into which a trumpet and flugelhorn cautiously intrude – transport us into another realm.
Photo by Jacqueline Justice.