If you have yet to hear about Rising Appalachia, let me inform you: these sisters are as chic as it gets. That is – if your definition of “chic” aligns with mine. Optimistic intuitive poets with art in their blood, cultural reciprocation in their voices, and gossamer light in their eyes. Are we on the same wavelength?
Rising Appalachia was formed by Leah and Chloe Smith in a basement studio in 2005, and with five albums under their belt, the folk collective has become well known for their activism. The band has refused to become a part of the “mainstream music industry” with their first four LPs being self-funded and produced, and their last release funded by fans on Kickstarter. Each tour the artists have held has had a theme of activism and education: for their tour in support of 2015’s ‘Wider Circles’ they traveled by train to be more local-focused and sustainable, while 2016’s Fertile Grounds tour partnered with the Permaculture Action Network to help connect fans and concert-goers with educational resources and hands-on actions they can take.
In the words of member Leah Song herself, they’re “building community and tackling social injustice through melody, making the stage reach out with wide arms to gather this great family. It has taken on its own personality, carrying us all along the journey. Here’s to poetic observations, social change, lyrical messages, political focus, symphonic coercing, ferocious bantering, bicycles and train tracks, primal will, fresh air, harmony, flow, and beautiful noise.” Leah also coined the term “Slow Music Movement” in a TEDx talk (you can find the link below), and it’s a perfect description of Rising Appalachia’s philosophy, which echoes through into their music. Now that you have a bit of a backstory, let’s get to the new track.
Released on the winter’s solstice the band wishes you to “cultivate warmth in the long dark hours with a mystical folk ballad.” ‘Handsome Molly’ is certainly warm and inviting; their vocals meld together in ethereal harmony, becoming one, as sweet and thick as molasses. A courtship ballad with Appalachian and Irish roots, you might recognize it from renditions done by Bob Dylan as well as Mick Jagger. It features Peia, an archival songstress whose most recent album ‘Beauty Thunders’ you can find on Bandcamp. Just the three women singing soulfully a cappella, if you listen hard enough you might even be able to hear the creaks of the sailboat Chloe, Leah, and Peia were crossing over the Salish Sea.
Cherish the comfort a little honey-tinged music can do for you in these colder months, curl up with a cup of your finest chamomile tea and listen to ‘Handsome Molly‘ on repeat. Oh, and lest I forget, the artwork done for the track was created by troubadour Leah Song. Talk about taking creativity back into your own hands.