Molly Thomas & The Rare Birds Bio
Molly Thomas And The Rare Birds have always been authentic but Thomas and her band have raised the bar on honesty and vulnerability for their new album, “Honey’s Fury”. The southern Alabama foursome amplifies Thomas’ recurring theme of our humanness, connection, and the personal transformation of our chaos and confusion into a raging river of sweet honey. During the four years of creativity that yielded “Honey’s Fury” Thomas has seamlessly woven 12 songs of love, betrayal, destruction, forgiveness, reflection, and healing into a powerfully inspirational album. Thomas effortlessly transforms the depth, range, and complexity of her existence into enlightening learning experiences that are touching and inspirational to her listeners. A notable example is Thank You where Thomas takes us on the wave of emotions surrounding her recent divorce, marital infidelity, and ultimately her path to forgiveness and healing. Her transformative and empathetic touch is most evident here.
Molly Thomas has always been a child of the water and metaphors of flow, movement,
tidal change and bodily connection frequently surface in her lyrics. Born in Ocean
Springs, Mississippi, Thomas has made made her home in and cultivated the majority of
her musical influences from the southern regions of Alabama, Mississippi, and
Tennessee. A hive for songwriters and artists whose emotive storytelling and beautifully
gritty swampy swagger personify the region, The south has been the perfect location for
Thomas to grow her self-described Indie Swamp Pop.
As a side-person Thomas has recorded and toured internationally, including late night
performances on David Letterman and Jay Leno’s Tonight Show with folk icon Todd
Snider. Her violin, string arrangements and vocals have been featured on recordings
and live performances with Guster, Matthew Ryan and Will Hoge amongst others, and her
reputation as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and collaborator speaks for itself.
Throughout her career, Thomas has released three critically acclaimed records as a
solo artist and her music has appeared in films.
Thomas’ current album “Honey’s Fury” is her first with her touring band The Rare Birds and it is a collaborative effort that first took flight with her creative partner and co-
producer Rick Hirsch. Guitarist Hirsch, who's roots are firmly embedded in the Georgia and Alabama music communities, is also is a child of the Gulf. Hirsch’s career took off
as a founding member of the chart topping southern rock band Wet Willie in the early
70s. In the mid-70s Hirsch recorded and toured with Gregg Allman and Cher on the
“Allman And Woman” album, at which time Hirsch relocated to Los Angeles, where he
wrote, recorded and performed with many legendary artists and music industry pioneers
including Randy Newman, Glynn Johns, Russ Titleman, Tom Dowd, Billy Vera, Fatboy
Slim and Joan Armatrading. In addition to many film and television credits Hirsch has had his songs recorded by Alabama, Tina Turner, Cher, and co-wrote Papa Come Quick
(Jody and Chico) for Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy nominated “Luck Of The Draw” album.
Like waterways that meander through the land eventually meeting in the Gulf, Rick
Hirsch and Molly Thomas were meant to meet, and on many occasions, Hirsch’s name
was brought to Thomas’ attention as a potential collaborator. He had recently returned
home from Los Angeles, and right across the bay from Thomas, to Mobile, Alabama to
build a recording studio and to develop young artists. Although they had been traveling
in the same circles for 10 years they had yet to meet when their paths serendipitously
crossed as Hirsch ended up stepping in as a last minute replacement for Thomas’ guitar
player at a show in Mississippi. Immediately attracted to Thomas’s voice, songwriting
and “all-around artistic soul”, the two artists began a creative partnership in 2015. Their
allegiance and attraction to the Gulf cemented a creative bond and the two started to
develop a sound that echoed the south. “It’s big, swampy and round, with each
musician playing an integral role in bringing the songs to life”.
One recurring theme in Thomas’ songs is connection, whether it be personal or one’s
relationship to the ever changing physical and emotional environment. The Rare Birds
are also intertwined musically and personally. Drummer John Milham first met Thomas
when she relocated to Mobile to join his current band Slow Moses.
In the 20 years since the move the two have revolved through each other’s lives, for a
short time in Slow Moses, as brother and sister-in-law during Thomas’ marriage and
eventual divorce from Milham’s brother, and finally with the first incarnation of The Rare
Birds in 2014. Besides being part of the rhythmic tide behind The Rare Birds, John is
the band’s “peacekeeper” and glue, keeping the band’s groove and spirit on course. It
was also Milham who introduced bassist John Keuler to Thomas and later brought him
into the band. Another local musician, bassist Keuler holds down the bottom end of The
Rare Birds and contributes beautiful vocal harmonies behind Thomas. Keuler’s melodic
bass lines and harmonic contributions are an integral part of the band’s lush sound
which they have been sharpening on the road for the last four years.
Enter Grammy award winning engineer Trina Shoemaker, best known for her work with
Emmylou Harris, Daniel Lanois, Sheryl Crow, The Indigo Girls, Blues Traveler and The
Dixie Chicks. Schumacher was working at Dauphin Studios in Mobile, where Honey’s
Fury was recorded. She had heard the recordings and, after a chance encounter and
discussion with Thomas at the supermarket, was enlisted to mix the record. Thomas
wanted a lush, rolling, swampy sound, which was similar to Schumacher’s signature
sound. In yet another serendipitous moment, Schumacher was added to Thomas’s
team, mixing 11 of the 12 tracks on Honey’s Fury.
Molly Thomas is an accomplished career artist with a strong point of view fronting a
dynamic and experienced band of musical collaborators. Molly Thomas And The Rare
Birds have a dedicated work ethic confirming their honesty and authenticity in every
song, and have been hailed by both critics and their contemporaries as an integral and
“unfiltered voice” representing the sound of the southern United States.
"With talented Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard releasing her first solo material, this summer is off to a hot start for fans of Alabama music.
In addition to proven stars from the state like Howard and songsmith Jason Isbell - who’s been touring with Father John Misty and recording with Sheryl Crow - making national news, promising local music continues to bubble up here.
Below are 10 recently released songs to know, by bands and solo acts based in or from Alabama.
'The Ocean' Molly Thomas & The Rare Birds
Fairhope combo summons mystical-Americana vibes reminiscent of that Grammy-winning “Raising Sand” album Robert Plant and Alison Krauss did back in 2008."
"The Alabama foursome hits hard, too. Backed by Rick Hirsch (guitar), John Milham (drums), and John Keuler (bass), Thomas shines throughout the twelve tracks that appear on Honey’s Fury. The Rare Birds showcase their gritty chemistry, and Thomas effortlessly welcomes you into her turbulent yet gleefully inspiring world. The band truly is a rare combination of talent that works like a steady, well-oiled machine that won’t take no for an answer."
- Music & Mojitos
"Perfectly timed is the fattened notes & interplay of instruments on “Calling My Name.” Ms. Thomas asserts herself & the band supports her well. If today’s rock & roll burns the coal slow this effort is doused with starter fluid. Fiery like The Avett Brothers & The Mumfords. All good."
- Americana Highways
"A round bass line and glittering guitar accents inject the harmonics with intimacy and emotional commitment, especially evident on the stellar guitar solo, full of searing shadow-like hues."
- Rawckus Magazine
"Molly Thomas and The Rare Birds are purposeful. Every note and instrument choice serves the song in the best possible light.
I adore this album.
Molly's vocals are damn powerful and goosebumps worthy." - Viola Krouse
- Making a Scene
Alabama Kick Ass: Molly Thomas and the Rare Birds – “Calling My Name”
"WOW!!!!!! That’s all I can say. Take Melissa Ethridge and throw her in southern Alabama, and give her kick-ass tunes, and you get Molly Thomas and the Rare Birds. This is how Americana should sound; glistening guitars, pounding rhythm, bass riffs galore, and a beautiful voice that reaches out to the stratosphere. There is something Emmy-Lou Harrisish about Thomas and her band, comprised of Thomas on acoustic guitar and violin, Rick Hirsh on guitar, John Milham on drums, and John Keuler on bass. The four of them are all well acquainted with each other, and that makes an album about connections make so much sense. This is beautiful music. I’ve been listening non-stop." - Phil King
- Audio Fuzz
"Molly Thomas & the Rare Birds are premiering their brand-new song "Sharona," and its accompanying music video, exclusively for readers of The Boot. Despite partially sharing its name with the Knack's 1979 hit, "Sharona" was actually inspired by a woman Thomas met. Thomas sings to Sharona herself, laying bare the ups and downs of her subject's life -- failed relationships, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness -- and discusses contending with the consequences of your own actions."
- The Boot
"Today, Wide Open Country is premiering the stunning "Tumbleweed," a cautionary tale that captures the despair of being in love with a rambler. Spacious and dreamlike, the song conjures up images of lonely travelers in a roadside diner somewhere in the desolate southwest."
- Wide Open Country
The players match the sultry spirit of “I Wanna Live” with an irresistible bluesy churn as Thomas sings, “Got my best cotton dress on/ Stickin’ to my skin’/ Part of me is dressed for travelin’/ Part of me is dressed for sin.” In “Laura” Thomas indicts a woman who’s never measured up, but tempers that vivisection with encouragement that it’s not too late; that’s a tricky balance that the music buoys with the sunniness of ‘60s pop. “Thank You,” in which Thomas tenderly arranges the pieces of a broken marriage, becomes a semi-classical lullabye. In “Callin’ My Name,” the song that gives the album its title, the band brings chiming, pulsing rock energy to dreamlike poetry, creating a hallucinatory anthem.
- The Rogers Review
"Glide is thrilled to premiere “Calling My Name” (below) from Molly Thomas & The Rare Birds, a poetically graceful track with a rumbling rock enigma that recalls Patti Smith and Heartless Bastards. Thomas comes across as cross pollinator or rock history, combining the highly charged confessional and big hearted singer-songwriter rock of the 70’s."
- Glide Magazine
"...She’s also a roots-pop singer-songwriter with a strong point-of-view and a way of expressing it that leaves the sharp edges on, often to exhilarating result. There are moments on her new album — Make Everything Bright, which she co-produced with Robert Plant drummer Marco Giovino — when she comes off like a southern Sam Phillips..." read more
~ Jewly hight - The Nashville Scene Critics Picks
"...As a writer, Thomas isn’t about dressing her messages up; she’s about carving down to the essence of the matter at hand...
...Thomas seems to approach writing more like a poet than a songwriter, and when she’s used enough words to get the point across, she’s done..." read more
~ Lawrence Specker - The Mobile Register
..."has carved her niche in the hyper-competitive Nashville, Tenn., music scene through talent, hard work and sheer determination..." read more
~ David Tisdale - The Hattiesburg American
“Molly Thomas is no little lady, bemoaning her trials and tribulations at the hands of the wrong kind of man. There's a streak of defiance a mile wide in her voice and, as a writer, she kicks where it hurts and with unerring accuracy.”
Michael Mee - The Hawick News/UKnetrhythms.com
"The album has a slightly gauzy sound, but it's not the production haze often used to cover up the limitations of weak vocalists. It's more the throwback resonance of projects like last year's Jack White-Loretta Lynn album."Lawrence Specker - Mobile Register
"Thomas was most effective, raising her voice in hymn-like fashion to stun the audience into reverential silence as songs from her "Shoot the Sky" recording trippingly bounced around the interior walls of the historic building. A seemingly natural musician, Thomas, who began playing violin at age 6, can switch from piano to guitar to violin, writing and producing her compositions into a galvanizing form."
Bill Whiting - Honest Tune Magazine