Pic by David Clancy Photography
Molly Hanmer and The Midnight Tokers Release “Stuck in a Daydream”
Molly Hanmer is a survivor; LA’s up and coming singer-songwriter has been through some of the highest highs and lowest lows over the years, including the passing of her mother, who tragically died after a battle with cancer. I’m always amazed by the willpower it takes to triumph such horrible events. Hanmer channels all of these powerful emotions into her music, as she and her band The Midnight Tokers’ roll out a varied, powerful rock/country/blues/folk LP in Stuck in a Daydream.
Rough and tumble opener “Take a Walk with Me” sees Molly ripping into Joplin’s snarl but finding grace where Janis would have roared out every word. There’s a perfect balance between aggression and smooth, fluid grooving here with rockabilly bass lines, Keith Palmer’s cracking snare drums and a dueling acoustic/electric guitar bravado blaring throughout. Some beatnik organ melodies only further the 60s charm of the music, though Hanmer and the Tokers are more attack than psyche-out on this tune. “Real Love” crawls into existence on a growly bass guitar riff with countrified/blues licks coming into play alongside a smattering of piano twinkles. The mood here is playful and teasing with a swirling 70s sense felt in every flickering lead guitar sting and Molly’s breathy, crooning vocals. Kicking up a similar dust-storm “Fool’s Run (Different Song)” relies on smoldering, sizzling amplified fuzz that supports a stream of conscious like vocalizing and stomping dirt road madness.
“Old Number Seven” lays into a cabaret sort of rock n’ roll blues with a waltzing tempo getting some slick treatment by the organ and the glistening, melody-intensive vocals. Everything keeps to this nice mid-pace that allows each hook to ebb and breathe within the structure of the song. “Love Song” and the title track make for an engrossing, largely acoustic pair; the former being a cascading, skyward-bent folk tune while the latter sinks into some meatier country n’ blues vibes, all the while Hanmer’s voice reaches for and hits every highest crescendo peak. Whether she’s burning down into a huskier lower register or going up the note, she sounds great doing it.
Ripping into a punchy electric guitar lick, a few Manzarek-tinged keyboard leads and a jangly rhythmic grind, “Come Back” is a low key, affectionately pleasing rocker that’s one of the album’s best cuts. It’s a far cry (and proof positive that this is an eclectic album) from the immediately following mariachi horns and Dodge City swing of “Outlaw Blues.” I daresay there’s a hint of Marty Robbins to be found here. Elsewhere, “Drag You Along” is dark n’ jazzy and has a hint of lounging jazz in its confines, “Worker’s Lament” piles on authentic acoustic country flavors, “Dead Happy” oddly and wonderfully sounds like a combination of funk rock with a touch of the first 3 Deep Purple’s (the funky organ bringing that thought to mind) and closer “Mama’s in the Spirit World Now” is an appropriate finale full of distant organ howls, plaintive melodic vocals, and tender acoustic guitar.
Stuck in a Daydream jettisons Molly Hanmer out into the public eye, placing her gorgeous, unique rock n’ roll for all of the world to see. There’s not one bad song here and her and her band’s focus combining together so many different styles of music is immaculate. Anyone that has a taste for the blues, country music up to the late 70s stuff, wandering old school folks and beyond should find a great album to enjoy with Stuck in a Daydream.
by Lori Reynolds
*A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Molly Hanmer was herself, a cancer survivor.
A menacing laughter greets us as the opening salvo of piano play enters the fold …