The glowing strength of female role-models cascades over My Madonna, the latest, serotonin-slinging single from The Coral guitarist, Paul Molloy’s forthcoming, debut solo album, The Fifth Dandelion. Reliably showing the way to the ‘straight and narrow’ if the masculine mind gets stuck at the lights, the influence of mothers, partners, sisters and daughters finds both melodic and poetic tribute in the deeply personal ode to Molloy’s guiding lights.
A masterpiece in video form also arrives in support of the single, featuring cut-out animations of the musician himself, landing in a colourful, Gilliam-esque otherworld. Molloy appears as a rocket-riding space explorer and valiant knight in the short film, with him and his partner, Fiona Skelly, painstakingly hand-cutting each illustration, before animation duties were taken over by esteemed filmmaker, Dom Foster.
Tripping from the keys as if divining inspiration, not only from an expansive range of sonic and literary influences but a space of spiritual strength, Molloy’s piano-driven composition found its vibrant sense of life at a time of grief. Happily hemmed in between the first flushes of love and the enduring influence of the mother he’d just lost, Molloy’s feelings for the women that make the man spilled out, as one entered his life just as the other left.
Watch the video for 'My Madonna' - BELOW:
Following the spectacular ray of morning sunshine that was his debut single, Dungaree Day, listeners will be soothed once more by Molloy’s easy melodies and glinting instrumentation, with My Madonna pursuing Molloy’s baroque pop sound cut with Strawberry Fields Mellotron accents and the acerbic, picture-painting lyricism of Bob Dylan and Ray Davies.
Molloy says: “’ My Madonna’ is really about my girlfriend, written when we first started going out, a piano ode to all that’s good about her. Then, my mum died and the piano in her house was where I practised those parts, before recording them in that room on a portable 8-Track. So, it took on the memory of my mum too, who was a huge music fan. She supported me in following this path, encouraging me to stay determined.”
The Fifth Dandelion is released on Molloy’s own Spring Heeled Records label on digital and vinyl-formats only, with the stunning artwork inspired by American illustrator, John Alcorn and Yellow Submarine’s Czech-German artist contributor, Heinz Edelmann. The lavish vinyl pressing is unmissable in striking, full-colour, inner and outer illustrated sleeves.
Normally, and by nature, a team player – having also played in legendary Liverpool bands, The Zutons, The Stands and formed The Big House with Candie Payne – Molloy’s road to an album that bears only his name meanders through his whole songwriting career, it’s completion a triumph of determination in the face of adversity and interruption. Over two years, spanning a period of heavy touring and book-ended by the deaths of both his mother and father, the multi-instrumentalist songwriter took a creative journey into himself, around those he loved and the literature in which he finds solace and inspiration.
Molloy’s toes dip frequently into worlds less understood and those portrayed by horror and science fiction writers, sitting to take in the words of authors including HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. These influences weave with differing shades of dark and light through The Fifth Dandelion. In the artist’s own words, immortalised on the album’s artwork, the record is ‘where midnight movies come alive, French horns silhouette the ghouls of forgotten empires, broken bayou riverboats murmur Marie Laveau’s name in the still of night. Wild Bill Hicock arm-wrestling Davy Jones in the Jolly Roger.”
Through a recording process that started at home on an old tape machine, but travelled onwards between Coral Caves, where Ian Skelly applied drums, and former-Coral member, Bill Ryder-Jones’ Yawn Studios in West Kirby, the album found Molloy on a journey into his own capabilities as a producer. Toying with sound across strings, brass, diverse percussion techniques and reversed recordings, the artist strived for a distinct, ‘British speakeasy’ feel, grafting brooding David Lynch-style darkness to sequin-studded Gatsbyesque opulence, all within a labyrinth of fact and fiction. Blanketing it all is a type of comforting, folk-tale lyricism that tips his black, wide-brimmed Fedora to great storytellers like The Kinks and Small Faces.