Singer-songwriter and guitarist Molly Tuttle is still a couple of months away from releasing her first full-length solo LP on independent label Compass Records, yet the 25-year-old performer has already stocked up on groundbreaking industry awards. Between her expressive, crystalline voice and astounding flatpicking guitar skills, Tuttle has made history as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s first-ever female Guitar Player of the Year (in 2017 and 2018) and the only female artist to take home a member-voted prize (Instrumentalist of the Year) at 2018’s Americana Honors & Awards ceremony.
With tunes that range from the earthy and soulful “Make My Mind Up” to the delicately ethereal “Sleepwalking” and the pounding “Light Came In (Power Went Out)” — a sort of high-wattage Alison Krauss-Taylor Swift hybrid — Tuttle effortlessly delivers a mélange of styles to accompany her powerful guitar licks throughout.
Nowhere are those full-throttle skills more evident than on “Take the Journey,” which kicks off with a sizzling guitar riff that would make Lindsey Buckingham blush. “You can try to control the weather but the rain inside you is still gonna fall,” Tuttle sings in the tune that offers encouragement and inspiration to anyone tempted to abandon a particular quest. The theme is one which mythological studies scholar Joseph Campbell famously brought to light in his seminal 1949 work, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Identified by Campbell as the “hero’s journey,” the creative device has inspired authors, musicians and filmmakers for ages.
“I sat down with Sarah Siskind one afternoon in East Nashville,” Tuttle tells Rolling Stone Country. “We wanted to write a song with a modal feel, and as we were writing I started messing around with a claw hammer guitar part in a modal G tuning. To me this song is about the hero’s journey, a story arc that we see in books and movies. Everyone has some form of hero’s journey in their own lives as well.”
When You’re Ready, produced by Ryan Hewitt (the Avett Brothers, Lumineers), also features Jason Isbell on backing vocals and Sierra Hull in a guest spot on mandolin. The LP’s opening cut, “Million Miles,” is one Tuttle co-penned with Steve Poltz, who started writing the song in the Nineties with his one-time musical colaborator Jewel before the pair abandoned it.
When You’re Ready will be available on Compass Records April 5th.