Score: 4.25 out of 5 Grackles

Molly Sarlé: “Karaoke Angel”


Molly Sarlé: “Karaoke Angel”

Record Label: Partisan

Release Date: September 20, 2019

Photo courtesy of Molly Sarlé/Partisan

“Human”, the track released earlier this year from North Carolina’s Molly Sarlé, addresses emotional frailty, a desire for what is perceived to be unattainable, and confusion on why, or even if, you actually do. “If I asked you/to understand/that I see what I see/I don’t see what I can’t/you’d know I’m nothing/other than human.” This uncertainty surfaces again and again on Sarlé’s remarkable solo debut. Sarlé is 1/3 of the folk trio Mountain Man (with Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Heath), whose harmonies grace their mesmeric recordings. But like a lot of multi-songwriter efforts, they feel emotionally rounded by compromise. Karaoke Angel holds back nothing. Avoiding mawkishness or self-pity, Sarlé lays out her insecurities. “I’m far from knowing/what I’m doing here,” she confesses on “Passenger Side”. “Looking for a bird’s eye view/in a rear-view mirror/watching so many things/disappear.” The title track uses karaoke as a metaphor for opening your heart, and addresses those off the stage. “I don’t know much about love but/the view/sure is nice”. Her wit and perception are framed by slow, realized, if somewhat pedestrian arrangements, and held fast by Sarle’s warm charm as a vocalist. But it’s the bare emotional truths that hook you – the fleeting love of “Suddenly”, or the bitter doubts and moral ambiguity of “Twisted”. “You know who you are/and we’ve all been used” she cries. “I know who I am/and I’ll never get used/to it.”

Review by Jeff McCord