Song, sadly, has become a finite experience not that different than a shooting star. Blink and you miss the melody as it shoots across a seemingly endless collection of immobile duplications before quickly burning out and disappearing forever. Time, the foundation upon which song was built, has become nothing more than an overused adjective of sound.
In a sense, Montreal’s Molly Sweeney writes timeless songs. “Swollen”, the first song on Gold Rings and Fur Pelts, is strong and fragile. It could move undetected in the 60s folk scene, blending in and learning their secrets. Sweeney’s gentle touch and her talented backing band offer a pillow soft foil to an alluring husk that would make Kathleen Turner blush, and songs like “Florida” satisfy the talent and familiarity for which we often search but there is something more primal about her compositions. This record retreats to a time when we were forced us to live off the earth, wearing hides of what we killed and payment was an arbitrary exchange of shiny ducats of indeterminate wealth. Back to a time when song was vital to life, responsible for detailing history and passed from generation to generation as definitive word.
Gold Rings and Fur Pelts is a journey lit by the dim glow of a solitary torch, burning only bright enough to lead a small, closely knit group. Even when Sweeney rallies the troops, as she does with the marching beat percussion of the title track or falsettos that open “Full Moon” like a flower at first light, this experience is more intimate than inclusive. Sweeney isn’t hoping to win over the unruly, fickle mob. She invites you to huddle close and share the embers, knowing all that matters is you both survive the night.