Molly Tuttle has become one of bluegrass music’s greatest forces. As the reigning GRAMMY winner for the Recording Academy’s Best Bluegrass Album category, Tuttle continues to win over fans with her enchanting vocals, virtuosic guitar work, and compelling originality as a songwriter. Her latest effort, City of Gold, shows us all of these skill sets alongside the talent contained within Tuttle’s band, Golden Highway.
The majority of the material on this project was co-authored by Tuttle and Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, as was the case with her last release, Crooked Tree. One of the biggest differences though is that City of Gold prominently features Golden Highway, which includes Bronwyn Keith-Hynes on fiddle and harmony vocals, Dominick Leslie on mandolin, Shelby Means on bass and harmony vocals, and Kyle Tuttle on banjo and harmony vocals. It’s obvious from the opening track, El Dorado, that this ensemble performs at an incredibly high level. This song based around a South American legend about a city filled with gold fits Tuttle’s sound beautifully.
San Joaquin is a fast paced song about a crazy ride on a train going down the San Joaquin railway in California. If there are any doubts about Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway’s ability to create music in the hardcore traditional bluegrass vein, this track should be able to cast all those aside.
Yosemite pairs Tuttle with Dave Matthews. This song tells the story of a couple going on a road trip in an attempt to escape their problems. Both perspectives are portrayed wonderfully by Molly and Dave. Bronwyn Keith-Hynes’ fiddle work also stands out on this track.
Next Rodeo tells of a musician’s life traveling on the road from one show to the next. Written by Tuttle, Secor, Melody Walker, and Shelby Means, this track features tasteful drumming from Jordan Perlsan.
Alice in the Bluegrass is a clever take on the story of Alice In Wonderland if it had taken place in Kentucky. This is one of those tracks where everything from the lyrics, the melody, and the arrangement all work together so well. The tale could not have been told any better.
Stranger Things directly follows Alice In The Bluegrass. It’s the perfect follow up to the former as it discusses how things aren’t always as they seem. Jerry Douglas, who co-produced this recording with Tuttle and contributes dobro to three tracks, provides excellent instrumental backing on this song.
The project closes with The First Time I Fell in Love, a sentimental song about finding joy in simple things during your formative years. It ends the album on a nice, positive note.
City of Gold is a strong release from top to bottom. Not only are the song selections and instrumental arrangements so well crafted, but this is one of those projects that has something for everyone to enjoy. It makes an even stronger case as to why Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway’s notoriety continues to grow.