CD Saints & Sinners * [Mollie O'Brien/Rich Moore] (CD 6972670), Audio Other
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Saints & Sinners * [Mollie O'Brien/Rich Moore]

  • 1. Keep It Clean
    2. New Boots
    3. Losers
    4. Ghost of You Walks, The
    5. Lonely for a While
    6. Dead and Lovely
    7. Saints and Sinners
    8. Everything I've Got
    9. Don't Bother Me
    10. I'm Shakin'
    11. Mighty Close to Heaven
    12. Think About Your Troubles
    13. Cuba
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 683

  • Credits

    Mollie O'Brien's gorgeous voice isn't heard enough on CD. Saints & Sinners is her first nationally distributed disc since 2000's Things I Gave Away. This outing is a duo effort with her husband, guitarist Rich Moore. O'Brien's vocals are front and center on these songs (save for the closing instrumental), with Moore's subtle but expert picking providing strong musical support. While the album isn't a concept piece as the title suggests, the songs do deal with saints (tunes like the title track and "Mighty Close to Heaven") and sinners (numbers like "Losers" and "I'm Shakin'"). The album's broader "concept" is tackling songs that O'Brien and Moore think are great songs deserving of greater attention. They cover songs ranging from Tom Waits to Rodgers & Hart, and draw from an equally wide spectrum of American roots music (rollicking blues to more demure art-folk). The disc gets off to a particularly rousing starting with O'Brien's full-bodied vocal performances on "Keep It Clean," "New Boots," and Dave Van Ronk's "Losers." She gives a more studied reading to Richard Thompson's "The Ghost of You Walks," while later playing up the theatricality of Waits' "Dead and Lovely." On some of the quieter numbers (such as "Mighty Close to Heaven" and Harry Nilsson's "Think About Your Troubles"), O'Brien comes off a little staid and formal, verging into Judy Collins territory. She does, however, imbue George Harrison's "Don't Bother Me" with a bluesy, haunting quality. However, it is on the looser, uptempo tunes that the album really springs to life (as on the twangy Tin Pan Alley take of Rodgers & Hart's "Everything I've Got," for example). Throughout the disc, O'Brien receives able assistance from Moore and the other backing musicians (including her brother Tim, the Subdudes' John Magnie, and co-producer/multi-instrumentalist Ben Winship). Utilizing an impressive selection of instruments -- from bouzouki and pedal steel to oboe and French horn -- they supply a rich, varied musical foundation to support, but never overwhelm, the singer and the songs. Saints & Sinners marks a very welcome return for O'Brien (and teaming with Moore), and hopefully it won't take another decade before they record their next album. ~ Michael Berick

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