Mollie O'Brien & Rich Moore
With a 50 percent divorce rate in the U.S., it's quite obvious longevity is not a quality of many modern relationships. Mollie O'Brien and Rich Moore refuse to be a part of the statistic; Twenty-seven years in marriage, their union shows no sign of deterioration. Musicians for most of their adult lives, O'Brien and Moore's bond strengthens further through their debut studio album, Saints & Sinners.
Mollie O'Brien and Rich Moore had ripe and impressionable minds when The Beatles invaded America in 1964, an occurrence that sparked their journey along musical paths that would converge in 1981. The two played together in an R&B group after marrying, but once they started a family, Rich took the backseat to Mollie's career.
O'Brien is the older sister of bluegrass and country artist Tim O'Brien, a member of Hot Rize and also a critically-acclaimed solo artist. Mollie and Tim have recorded three albums as a duo, and he also backed her vocally or instrumentally on all of her solo releases.
In the last few years, Mollie and husband Rich's youngest daughter left home for college, allowing the couple to rededicate time to working together on the stage and in the studio. They started in 2007 with a live album, 900 Baseline. Saints & Sinners, released in September, is the first time both O'Brien and and Moore have shared name space on a full-length studio album.
Mollie does the singing and Rob provides the guitar work and harmony vocals on Saints & Sinners. An array of players and instruments support them, including Molly's brother, Tim, on the fiddle.
Just like the title, Sinners & Saints, the songs are part dark, part sunny. O'Brien and Moore take on many styles, making the album an engaging collection of music, from blues and folk, and even show tunes and cabaret.
Mollie O'Brien says with Sinners & Saints, she and Rob "wanted to find great tunes nobody had heard." Featuring songs by Jesse Winchester, Tom Waits, Harry Nilsson, Richard Thompson of Fairport Convention and George Harrison, the album plays out like a songbook of under-appreciated and overlooked artists.
Saints & Sinners contains Waits' creepy "Dead and Lovely," Nilsson's quirky, "Think About Your Troubles," and a stellar version of Harrison's "Don't Bother Me." The latter is the finest cover of the album, an enchanting, slower-paced version of the early Beatles song.
O'Brien and Moore also have two originals on Saints & Sinners. Moore's picking is showcased in the album-ending instrumental "Cuba." Mollie's "New Boots" leaves the listener wanting more of her original material. This sexy, bluesy song is as appetizing as the covers on the album.
Songs like the hymn "Mighty Close to Heaven" are beauties, but the "sinners" of the Sinners & Saints definitely win out over the "saints." "Some of the people in these songs have pretty sorry personalities," says O'Brien. Nonetheless, the losers, gamblers, criminals and schemers make for drama, resulting in more entertaining material.
O'Brien and Moore not only picked a collection of songs they thought needed more exposure, but songs that also do an apt job at complementing her singing and his playing. Both are extremely emotive and passionate in their performance.
Being a musician can be stressful work, with long hours spent in the studio and days out on the road. Being the spouse of one can be more difficult. In Rich Moore's case, he put his preferred career choice on the back-burner to support his wife, Mollie. Nearly three decades later, it doesn't appear Rich lives in regret, still happily supporting his wife's work, but now sharing the spotlight with her on Saints & Sinners.
Perhaps if more couples participated in artistic collaboration, their relationships would stand the test of time too.
Mollie O'Brien and Rich Moore are online at MollieOBrien.com.