Mollie O'Brien and her husband Rich Moore have just released their album 'Love Runner'. On Love Runner, they again enlisted their talented friends, Glenn Taylor (pedal steel), John Magnie (piano and accordion), Eric Moon (piano and organ) and Marc Dalio (drums). When one song called out for a musical saw, they were lucky enough to discover the wondrous Lesley Kernochan. Irish fiddler Jessie Burns put her lyrical stamp on a few folk songs. And, happily for O’Brien and Moore, their daughters Brigid and Lucy were able to make the date for the background vocal session.
Love Runner features three songs written by Mollie and Rich - the rocking title track, the autobiographical 40’s swing-like “Went Back Home,” and a powerhouse turn at the traditional gospel song, “Don’t Let The Devil Ride.” Once again, they have unearthed some hidden gems: Tom Paxton’s newly-written “Central Square” is about first love; Robin and Linda Williams’s and Jerome Clark’s “Green Summertime” is a gorgeous paean to a small town world called home; Hal Cannon’s “Just Go” places the listener squarely in the front seat next to a woman leaving a ruinous relationship in the dust. O’Brien and Moore also put their stamp on the inimitable Dave Van Ronk’s “Sunday Street” and on Randy Newman’s eerie “Suzanne” - both songs normally sung from a male point of view but, when given Mollie’s gimlet-eyed take, become even more unique for their devil-may-care breeziness and swagger.
The band assembled for these sessions (all old friends), are listeners and never let their parts overshadow the lyrics and guitar sounds. Minimal preproduction rehearsals made for fewer preconceptions and once they were all together playing live in the studio the band made bold leaps to create the mood Mollie, Rich and Eric wanted. There’s definitely a locked-in feeling you get with each track - something that can only happen live and only with such intuitive and responsive musicians. And as for Eric, sitting in the producer’s chair, he found that sometimes departing from the master plan can create unique outcomes for every take.
Says Thorin, “Every time Mollie sings you'd better be recording. There are no scratch tracks. Rich is a favorite co-conspirator and sublime orchestrator on the guitar. They don't take themselves or anyone else too seriously or let anyone else ride that train. The studio banter is cutting, joyful and in the moment and they carry that to the stage with astonishing ease.”
Most of the tracks on Love Runner have to do with the universal theme of home: leaving it and family behind; missing it; never wanting to go back; finding it in surprising places all over the world; wondering what kind of “home” awaits us in the life after this one. O’Brien and Moore let us know via their choice of material that they are not afraid to take risks. It’s almost as if they’re telling us that at this stage in their lives, they are at home with their musical selves - they can do whatever they want and they don’t care if the rest of the world agrees with them.
Tune-in Friday, February 7 at 12 noon to hear 'Love Runner' in its entirety. Don't forget our weekly trivia contest at 12:30 and your chance to win free lunch at Zia Taqueria.