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Album: Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway - City of Gold | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway - City of Gold

Album: Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway - City of Gold

Bluegrass sensation takes her songwriting to the next level on her latest

Searching for her El Dorado

Some country music cosies up as close as possible to pop, in hopes of dragging more listeners in, smoothing away the raw backwoods feel. The most famed exemplar of this route is, of course, Taylor Swift, at least in her early career.

Other country music resonates with American folk history, emanating the vastness of the American south, its roots sounds and narratives. Molly Tuttle falls into the latter category and her latest album, her fourth, whips the listener off on a journey that’s as effective as a book of short stories, but with the added benefit of being a toe-tappin’ hoodang.

Tuttle has won numerous awards, the 30-year-old bright new hope of the bluegrass scene, also a member of the supergroup The First Ladies of Bluegrass. On City of Gold, she holds the centre of each song, singing and playing acoustic guitar, but backed by some astonishingly lively pickin’ from her band Golden Highway, notably Dominick Leslie on mandolin and Kyle Tuttle on Banjo (the rest of the band are fiddle, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, and bass, Shelby Means).

The 13 songs veer between sheer hoedown gusto of the “Duelling Banjos” variety, which is exhilarating, and more reflective fare that brings to mind the melancholic storytelling country found on Bob Stanley & Martin Green’s recent deep-dive compilation Choctaw Ridge: New Fables of the American South. Most importantly, Tuttle can write a song. Almost everything is both literate and catchy.

Opener “El Dorado” sets the tone, an immediate classic, an irrepressible gold rush yarn, redolent of John Huston’s film classic, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. For a frolic we can turn to the antics of “Alice in the Bluegrass” which comes over like a wacky barn dance melding of Emmylou Harris and Charlie Daniels. But there are also heartfelt slowies, elegiac, such as “Where Did All the Wild Things Go?”, or personally contemplative such as “The First Time I Fell in Love”.

Tuttle has a way with lyrics too. “Yosemite”, a duet with Dave Matthews, is a particular treat, wherein a road trip is supposed to heal a relationship but “all that remains is the gas in the tank, the tread on the tyres and what’s left in the bank.” When the listener plays City of Gold, Tuttle takes them on a journey, a lively and engaging one, which may cause jigging. She’s also touring the UK in January next year. That is a must!

Below: Watch Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway play "El Dorado" live in Nashville

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