The eclectic among you may know Mollie O'Brien as a "folk" singer, and she is, but that's only part of her story. I'd say that O'Brien is simply a singer, and with THINGS she's exploring the jazz & blues aspects of her musical personality. (She is not just another defrocked rock singer or washed-up folkie or pop singer trying to "re-invent" herself into a new genre where she can grow-older gracefully.) Her voice is similar to Bonnie Raitt, but with a softer, more malleable tone, and unlike some female blues singers, O'Brien feels no need to show herself off as a "tuff chick" or "big ballzy momma." Her plainspoken folk side contributes a wisdom and homespun directness to her blues/jazz side, with not a hint of irony, coyness or arch-urbane cleverness to be found.
The album opens with Percy Mayfield's "River's Invitation," here given a sexy, slow Delta blues treatment with subtle Cajun touches. She transforms Kristina Olsen's "Practicing Walking Away" into a languid yet powerful torch song that Julie London would've been proud to cover. (What's more, it also has a fine electric guitar solo from Nina Gerber that Herb Ellis or Jim Hall would likely groove-upon.) Another high point is Abbey Lincoln's "Throw It Away," which O'Brien essays without a net, so to speak: she is accompanied only by the solid yet warm tones of Cary Black's acoustic bass. Throughout, her voice conveys the essence of a gal that's been around the block a few times, one that's gotta prove nothin' to nobody. If you can dig Memphis Minnie & Bonnie Raitt, Sheila Jordan & Lucinda Williams, Cassandra Wilson & Emmylou Harris, or like earthy female vocalists, you owe it to you to check this out.