By Chris Ricci
Photos by Joey Phoenix
Some artists focus their efforts on playing a small number of shows, while others spend their time releasing albums and recording tunes. If there’s a master of both, it’s clearly Molly Pinto Madigan. If you've been to the downtown Salem area, there's no doubt that you've seen Molly’s name etched in chalk outside of a coffee house teasing a performance that evening. The Salem State University “Artist of the Year” has a staggering resume when it comes to venues she’s performed around the Boston area; ranging from headlining shows at Lynn’s Walnut Street Café to the Boston Celtic Music Festival. Molly has also been the recipient of some rather notable awards, including the first place prize in WUMB's Boston Folk Festival Songwriting Contest and most recently the 2014 Big Red Recognition for best female singer songwriter.
Molly’s latest endeavor comes in the form of her album “Wildwood Bride." Serving as a proper outlet for her storytelling, “Wildwood Bride” has an echoey composition that gives the murder ballads a haunting resonance. Her already airy vocals reach a new ethereal plane with the guidance of carefully specked instrumentation and an especially prominent acoustic guitar sound that is both ominous and delicate.
The album’s creation didn’t come without a fair share of artistic struggles, however. “The hardest part was letting go of some of my perfectionism and letting the album unfold. I have a tendency to want to control everything – including myself and my voice – and because of this, my past experiences in the studio setting have been really stressful” Molly said. Eric Lichter from Dirt Floor helped her fly through this recording process and made it clear that sometimes perfection isn’t always best. “Perfection can be sterile. It can be cold. I want to hear the breaths, and the pitch bends, and all moments that make a recording real. And I realized that so many of my favorite songs have that intimate, human quality to them” she said. “ I tried to go with the flow and trust in Eric Lichter’s talent, and I’m really thrilled with how the album turned out. It’s a learning process.”
There are plenty of stories of artists leaving the studio and waiting a long time to start the writing process again, and this is quite the opposite for Molly. “This is the first time I haven’t come out of the recording process totally drained and discouraged” Molly said. “So as far as future albums go, it’s taught me that it can be a relaxed, imaginative, nourishing experience. I’m already planning the next one.” Molly also took the entire “Wildwood Bride” recording process to heart when it comes to her upcoming shows, and has helped put things into perspective for her regarding taking these tracks from the studio to the stage. “Seeing my stripped down songs grow into these beautiful, gilded things with bass, drums, harpsichord, celesta – it made me think of the songs in a different way. I hear them differently in my head, and, inevitably, I approach them differently from a performance perspective.”
Molly continued by adding that “I’m not a very loud musician, nor am I particularly flashy in my performance style, but I do love what I do.” The only thing she loves more than preforming is seeing others enjoy her music as much as she does. “If I can share a song with you, and feel that, even for a moment, I’m being heard as an artist . . . That’s priceless.”
Molly Pinto Madigan is having her North Shore CD release party for Wildwood Bride on Wednesday April 22 at the Peabody Institute Library. The event is free to the public, however registration is required.
© 2015 Creative Salem