Pausing for breath before setting off on an energetic, vigorous sprint through what is the Pyrrhic euphoria of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘White Freightliner Blues’, Molly Tuttle shares a little joke with the audience. “If you make most songs fast enough, they become bluegrass”, the Nashville-based musician suggests.
Bluegrass is undoubtedly the musical genre with which Molly Tuttle is most often associated. It is in her blood. Having started playing guitar at eight years of age, she was already performing onstage with her bluegrass multi-instrumentalist father three years later. And by the time she was 15, Molly Tuttle had joined her two brothers in the traditional bluegrass band The Tuttles.
But as this evening firmly evidences, Molly Tuttle’s musical reach stretches way beyond that of bluegrass. With her impressive band – Christian Sedelmyer (fiddle), Sam Howard (bass) and Nicholas Falk (drums) – and no less than 19 stellar songs on her setlist, Tuttle traverses the realms of country, Americana, folk (Appalachian, Swedish and most other points beyond), rockabilly, pop and on ‘Light Came In (Power Went Out)’ she even reveals a far rockier indie-edge.
But this is music of the mind and soul that transcends such simple classification and with her phenomenal guitar-picking and hugely expressive voice there does seem precious little that Molly Tuttle cannot play or sing. More than half of this evening’s set is drawn from her debut solo album When You’re Ready. Released back in April it is a mightily impressive record that, if anything, comes even more to life when experienced in a live setting, a place where Tuttle’s natural warmth and charm, the purity of her singing and the intricacy of her guitar technique are there for all to see and hear.
Molly Tuttle also steps into her own musical past, revisiting three songs from her 2017 EP Rise – opener ‘Save This Heart’, ‘Friend And A Friend’ and the personal reminder to herself, ‘Good Enough’ – and the imperious murder ballad ‘Rain and Snow’ that she had recorded a year earlier with The Goodbye Girls. Her sheer versatility is further highlighted with an exhilarating reading of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘Zero’ and a spellbinding encore of ‘Helpless’ in which she evokes all of the fragility and yearning of Neil Young’s original.
Photos: Simon Godley