[24 March 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
At the end of 2013, Ba Da Bing Records helped bring this impressive set of home recordings to a larger audience. Molly Drake was originally put out in limited edition by Squirrel Thing, but now it’s available wider and on vinyl and it’s time you heard it. These are the home recordings of Nick Drake’s mother. They’re intimate, sometimes hissy, recordings, with Molly’s voice and piano weaving through 19 brief songs. Her songs are often fascinated with birds, love, nature, the world around her. They play like bittersweet lullabies, and her reverence for birds is especially touching on songs such as “Little Weaver Bird” and “Cuckoo Time”, where she may be using birds as symbols, even though it’s clear she’s also openly in love with birds.
Drake also passes on wisdom about love, sometimes biting and clever as on album standout “I Remember”. Drake’s voice spins and falls like the birds she sings about, as does her range of emotion here. These songs are so intimate, so personal, that sometimes you might feel you’re eavesdropping. This sort of quiet, careful music is easily tied to her son’s work, and it’d be easy to see Molly Drake as preamble to Nick Drake’s impressive career. But that would be doing this collection a disservice. This is Molly Drake’s record, her story, and she tells it with heartbreaking beauty.