Band: Molly Thomas & The Rare Birds Album Release Party
Date: Saturday, June 22, at 7 p.m.
Venue: Cedar Street Social Club, 4 N. Cedar St., cedarstreetsocialclub.com
Tickets: $25-$30 available through mollythomas.com
The formation of Molly Thomas & The Rare Birds pooled the talents of four of the Azalea City’s most well-known musicians. For quite some time, Molly Thomas (Slow Moses, Todd Snider, Will Hoge), Rick Hirsch (Wet Willie), John Keuler (Light Travelers) and John Milham (Slow Moses, Grayson Capps) have been performing along the Gulf Coast. Now, this group of notable local musicians will be nesting at the Cedar Street Social Club for the celebration of their debut, full-length album, “Honey’s Fury.” When the band takes the stage, Molly Thomas & The Rare Birds will be playing the album in its entirety with a few extra songs to complete the evening.
This momentous occasion will include some impressive support from two Azalea City artists. Country hopeful/Nappie Award-winner Hannah McFarland will perform a set of original music, which will include cuts from her EP, “Heartache Like You.”
Singer-songwriter/author/podcaster Ferrill Gibbs will be performing a solo acoustic set featuring his unique, cerebral brand of alternative music. This release party will also include fare from David Rasp (owner of Heroes and The Royal Scam). No one could be as excited to release this album as Molly Thomas, especially with the positive feedback that she has been receiving from critics ranging from Glide Magazine to actor Jason Segel, who said Thomas’s music “offers us the freedom to sit back and listen while she explores heartache on our behalf.”
“It took so long to get all of this out and get the finished product,” Thomas said. “To be getting the feedback that we’ve been getting has been very validating to the process.”
“Honey’s Fury” began to take shape at Dauphin Street Sound in January 2018. While there, Thomas says that the band spent several days laying down the rhythm tracks for the album. After finishing at Dauphin Street Sound, Thomas says that she and Hirsch split time between their respective studios laying down the string arrangements and guitar overdubs. Thomas says that this was the most rewarding part of the creation process. She says that working closely with Hirsch allowed her to establish a creative and personal bond with this local music legend.
“Having that time side-by-side with Rick doing all that extra work was a gift, actually,” Thomas said. “We really learned how to work well with each other and know each other on a deeper level than just being a bandmate. We really knew how to communicate ideas as a result of the recording process that we had. It built our relationship.”
Two respected names in the recording industry polished the album’s tracks until they glistened. Grammy Award-winner Trina Shoemaker took on mixing responsibilities. Thomas likens her more to an artist than just a regular studio engineer. After Shoemaker finished, Thomas sent the tracks to Canada for mastering with Peter J. Moore. Thomas chose Moore because of his work with some of her favorite artists.
“I’m a big fan of Neko Case and John Doe and Cowboy Junkies,” Thomas explained. “So, the guy who did their records mastered our record. He was a real kind human.”
Even though the process took longer than Thomas imagined, the extra time and attention provided throughout the recording process is evident. Every vocal and instrumental track is perfectly blended, balanced and clarified. Layer upon layer of Thomas’s and Hirsch’s respective work on violin and guitar adds beautiful sonic complexity to the album as a whole. Thomas’s vocal work completes each track with waves of reverb and warmth. All these factors result in an album that resonates with a haunting and hypnotic musical persona that is fitting for the conceptual aspect of the album.
“Honey’s Fury” features 12 tracks that perfectly blend some of the best aspects of alt. country and modern folk. This is also the perfect musical melange for Thomas’s underlying theme of relationships, which she said appeared organically during the songwriting process.
Ultimately, the album’s title is a perfect representation of the album’s contents. Songs such as “Laura,” “Sharona” and “I’ll Meet You Anywhere” are filled with honeyed emotional overtones. “The Boatman,” “Calling My Name” and “The Ocean” are fueled by bold rhythms that command both the vocal and instrumental arrangements.
Then there is “I Wanna Live,” which showcases Thomas’s rock sensibilities. This ode to independence features a driving rock beat and Thomas letting her vocals go wherever they feel like going. This came from Thomas’s longtime collaborator, Mando Saenz, and his writing partner, Jess Brown. When the duo wrote this song, Saenz was reminded of Thomas and what she was experiencing at the time and passed it along to her. Thomas said the song spoke to her “loud and clear.”
“Having his song a part of this and being so true to what I was experiencing led to us working it up as a band,” Thomas said. “Then it suddenly became anthemic, lyrically and emotionally. All the part that everybody did just really came alive. Because of what they did, I was able to let go vocally on that song, and it felt really good.”
After the release party, Thomas says that she will begin promoting the album. First, she will embark on a tour as a solo supporting act for Todd Snider. Toward the end of the summer, she will reunite with The Rare Birds for several live performances. In addition, her fans will be able to catch Molly Thomas & The Rare Birds on the regional television show “StudioAmped” on the WSRE affiliate on PBS.
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