Molly Sarle – Karaoke Angel review

by Dave Bertram

Following in the footsteps of her fellow Mountain Man bandmate, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig – who recently released her solo debut as Daughter of Swords – Molly Sarlé has finally paved a route away from the folk trio with her own brand of unique storytelling on Karaoke Angel.

Produced by Sam Evian (New York-based singer songwriter on Saddle Creek), the record was written and recorded more than three years ago as she criss-crossed the Atlantic from cliffside trailers in Big Sur and churches in Woodstock to her home in Durham.

Here, she gives her own take on Americana, dusting the instrumentation with a sort of Californian sheen – it’s light and almost see through, but grounded in guitar, bass and rhythmic percussion.

And on top of this is her attempt at telling her own story. Singing verse to a new partner’s ex-wife on Kimberly, and regaling tales of old lovers brawling with substance addictions on This Close, she brings together thoughts from a range of chaotic-ish experiences which nod to an anything goes-sort-of attitude.

Home, This Close and Faith For Doubt are the clear standouts. Suddenly, which combines appalling wry lyrics to a lovely melody, unfolds in fits and starts, which all bring out a clear thesis throughout the ten-tracks: Sarlé has no concerns with wearing her influences on her sleeves.

Often finding herself onstage singing Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams on Karaoke, along with Sheryl Crow and Mazzy Star records, the Nicks and Buckingham touches can be found strewn across the record, both in the vocal delivery, instrumentation and driving rhythms. Faith For Doubt and This Close take many pointers from The War on Drugs, particularly the reverb-drenched production. While you can hear Haim in Suddenly.

On Karaoke Angel, it feels like Molly Sarlé has put her flag in the ground and found a place where she’s comfortable with musically and lyrically. Now, if she chooses it, is a new path forwards.

Secret Meeting score: 71


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