Album Review: Molly Tuttle – When You’re Ready

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I’ve heard of Molly Tuttle for obvious reasons.

Then this weekend I walked past the magazine aisle in a local store, happened to glance at a guitar magazine adorned with a hard rocker clearly ripping some chords, followed the subheads and saw “Molly Tuttle.”

You grabbed my attention.

So, today, I listened to Tuttle’s new album When You’re Ready (Out April 5).

Now you have my attention.

No, I don’t know her. I have no idea if we are related though I am sure somewhere along the line of genealogy we share similar DNA as I most recently was found by a nearby Tuttle and we discovered related ancestors came to America on the same boat many, many, many years ago.

All that to say, I honestly would have paid no attention to Molly Tuttle had it not been for the shared last name but I am so glad I did. I quite simply thoroughly and completely enjoy her new album and once you learn about Tuttle you can’t help but be totally impressed with her and admire the musicianship all over this record. She’s talented, has strong musical roots and takes lessons. Forget the reality shows, this is the real deal. From the ground up without all the immature drama.

Molly Tuttle delivers an absolute wonder in her debut full length effort, When You’re Ready (she released the seven song EP Rise in 2007). And what’s more, Tuttle wrote or co-wrote all the songs AND she plays guitar. And a damn fine guitar. In fact, she incorporates a flatpicking guitar technique which she has been so noted for but more than that her singing and songwriting goes beyond anything “new” you hear today. Her voice exemplifies a masterfully, exquisite tone with a raw talent that competes with her intricate guitar skills.

Tuttle combines bluegrass, her first love, along with pop and a clear blend of country in a 40 minute, 11 song album that should put those genre icons of Tyler Swift and Carrie Underwood on notice. When You’re Ready brings delicate melodies, crafty guitar playing and soothing chords along with reflective lyrics that will surely tap into the weary and heartbroken. She brings a stripped down approached to recording leaving aside those heavily produced anthems that drench pop radio today.

I was immediately drawn in at the start to “Million Miles” which opens the album. Just listen to that guitar solo. So sweet. And her vocals. A contemplative tone that fully draws you in. And it doesn’t let up. “Take the Journey” embraces her country roots as she plays guitar like a seasoned, grisly veteran of the road. Tuttle’s vocals take center stage on the title track for an emotional wedding dance while “The High Road” embraces her folk roots.

“Light Came In (Power Went Out)” picks up the pace nicely with straight-up pop chords. Her vocals often straddle the lines of country, folk and pop while sometimes embracing all three in the same song as you’ll hear in “Sleepwalking,” “Don’t Let Go” and “Make My Mind Up.”  “Sit Back and Watch It Roll” kills it as an honest country song and the album closer “Clue” feels like a reminder of where she’s been and how she got here. Don’t be surprised if she opens the door for a new flood of female talent like the 90s brought with Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and Jewel.

She indeed excels when picking up the tempo with a fun-paced beat but her more measured songs never really feel sluggish, a euphonic hindrance to many folk songs, thanks in likely part to her song writing approach and the harmonic direction she takes with every track. Though characterized as bluegrass and Americana (even won “Instrumentalist of the Year” at the 2018 Americana Music Awards) so many genre’s exist on this album it would be unfair to Tuttle to pin her down. Simply put, Molly Tuttle turns in a complete and total package of what authentic singing and songwriting exemplifies.

She’s not hard rock, but she’s got rock in her so just imagine what this young woman, just 26 years old, would have accomplished in the 70s along the likes of Heart, Fleetwood Mac and even the Pretenders. Therefore, it makes sense when she says , “I love so many types of music and it’s exciting to be a part of and embraced by different musical worlds, but when I’m creating I don’t think about genres or how it will fit into any particular format – it’s just music.” You get the sense that a sophomore album might totally redefine her brand without redefining her.

So, when you’re ready, sit back and contemplate life, wallow in your sorrows, dedicate a song or three to a lost love or if all reigns well, simply relax and muse a bit by yourself or enhance the atmosphere with friends. Molly Tuttle’s new album accomplishes all that and then some.

Sorry, hate to gush, but I suppose I get a little too excited over music that moves the soul a bit.

And, that’s exactly what you get on Molly Tuttle’s new album When You’re Ready.

Grade: A-

Molly Tuttle – When You’re Ready Track List:

  1. Millions Miles
  2. Take the Journey
  3. Make My Mind Up
  4. When You’re Ready
  5. The High Road
  6. Don’t Let Go
  7. Light Came In (Power Went Out)
  8. Messed With My Mind
  9. Sleepwalking
  10. Sit Back and Watch It Roll
  11. Clue