Album Review: Molly Tuttle, ‘City of Gold’

Molly Tuttle & Golden HighwayBronwyn Keith-Hynes on fiddle, Dominick Leslie on mandolin, Shelby Means on bass, Kyle Tuttle on banjo—strike gold on their transportive new album. Co-produced by Tuttle and Jerry Douglas, who also plays Dobro on the album, City of Gold traverses a range of musical landscapes and plumbs the breadth of human emotions from joy to sorrow.

Tuttle’s fingers fly up and down the frets on the introductory measures of the album’s rollicking opening track, “El Dorado.” All the musicians get a chance to stretch out on this song; as it changes tempo and direction a little over the halfway mark, Keith-Hynes’ fiddling leads the charge on this little minor chord masterpiece. Cascading mandolin runs, lightning fast banjo picking, and a searing fiddle drive the propulsive “San Joaquin,” which mimics the swaying, rolling movement of a train flying down the tracks. It’s one of the highlights of the album.

Douglas’ mournful Dobro leads off the somber, reflective, and exquisite ballad “When My Race is Run,” a meditation on the human need for community, even until and following the end of life. The instrumental bridge features a gorgeous call and response between Tuttle’s guitar riffs and Douglas’ Dobro licks. “More Like a River” takes a sonic page from the catalog of the Grateful Dead, with its loping guitar and banjo work, while “Stranger Things” features cascading instrumentation layered under Tuttle’s crystalline vocals; this ethereal song recalls the psychedelic folk tradition of England. “Evergreen, OK” is a good old good-time, front porch bluegrass breakdown, with each instrument taking a turn to follow down the song’s musical theme. The album closes with the waltzing “First Time I Fell in Love.”

Every song on City of Gold is a little gem, every facet sparkling with exquisite instrumentation, stunning songwriting, and heartfelt singing. City of Gold is clearly one of the best albums of the year.


City of Gold is available HERE.


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