Molly Parden’s new album Rosemary is a collection of delicate songs that illumines the stark fragility of loss and its persistent, unlikely beauty.
The album feels so vulnerable that it draws an empathetic engagement with the listener, leaving us sensing the deep pain that produced it. Yet still, the songs throughout Rosemary encircle us with the warmth of Parden’s diaphanous voice. It seems natural that so much of the album’s imagery, in sleeve covers and music videos, contains dustings of snow and rosemary branches—that warm green against a cold, bitter white. They’re visual fragments that at once reflect the consummate chill of a snowfall while producing a sense of hygge—precisely what Parden’s exquisitely gossamer voice brings to a collection of songs with heartbreaking lyrics.
I wonder if you think of me
I hardly ever think of you
Only when I use my legs to walk
Only when leaves do somersaults
You know it’s just on days the mail goes through
These are the times I think of you
The video for Kitchen Table, the opening track, reveals an ephemerality that permeates the entire album. Digital filters create light leaks, creating a ghostly visual presence that lingers then fades. The sounds that emanate from Kitchen Table recall some of Paul McCartney’s sweeter and sadder works in his early solo work, especially the wistful synth in the opening verses of Band on the Run. That connection seems to come full circle in the ‘let it be’ refrain that echoes in Parden’s song, Feel Alive Again.
Call me when the storms are closing in
And let me hold you then
Fall into the arms of this old home
And let me drink you in
Lay your troubles down beside my door
Come and rest with me
Where the light is there is dark no more
Close your eyes with me
The world is quietly below
And you are free with me
I can see you wanting to let it go
And let it be
Let it be
You can check out the video for Kitchen Table:
The midpoint track on the album, ‘Who Are We Kiddin’, breaks away from the tenderness that characterizes much of Rosemary, offering a brief reprieve from the solitude that shapes the record. The remaining songs are raw, lo-fi recordings that might trick you into thinking you’ve uncovered someone’s secret longings, captured on audiotape inside an empty home. Yet these are ultimately songs to share. The liner notes speak to Parden’s audience: “These songs are my friends. I take them with me to every show I play, I sing them quietly at home when I can’t seem to do anything else, or when I’m doing everything else. They gently tell my stories back to me. And now they’re yours, too. Take them with you.”
Molly Parden has been making music in Nashville, Tennessee’s underground scene for nearly a decade. She has toured with bands as a bassist, guitarist, and singer, providing backing sounds for musicians like Faye Webster, Sam Outlaw, and David Ramirez. She released her first album, Time Is Medicine (2011), through a Kickstarter campaign. Since then, she has been crafting the songs and sounds that you hear on Rosemary.
Audrey J. Golden is a literature and film professor who lives in New York. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and you can check out her personal website to learn more about her writing and her archive of books, records, and ephemera.