Add date: 1.30.2024
Release date: 1.26.2024

Apple Music
Official Website

Mol Sullivan referred to her debut album, GOOSE, as a “long exposure photograph,” representing snippets of her songwriting styles throughout the past fifteen years, along with capturing the radical change she has experienced as a person through the process and emerging from a decade-long affair with alcohol, the Cincinnati-based singer-songwriter highlights her sobriety and the difficult labor of unlearning patterns of behavior that don’t work anymore - and learning to let go of relationships that refuse to recognize their own. Wrapped inside a sparse chamber-pop instrumentation, this collection of Sullivan’s songs honors the person she had to be to become who she is now.

Sullivan has been writing and performing music since the age of eighteen, working mostly independently with her guitar as a songwriting partner. Her first musical inspirations met at a nexus of nineties Top 40, Americana, and singer-songwriters, crystallized by figures such as Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, and Lisa Loeb. These influences then flowed seamlessly into a love for indie songsters of the 2000s such as Mirah, whose song “The Struggle” is homaged with Sullivan’s “Cautiously.” The songwriting process behind GOOSE shows how Sullivan’s approach has developed into a discipline and craft. While Sullivan’s previous music relied on events in her life as catalysts, Sullivan no longer wants to “wait for the next heartbreak” to motivate a song. Instead of composing in a flash of inspiration, Sullivan views songwriting as more conversational now, a dialogue between herself and the music as she continually returns to shape it.

Recorded in Chicago over the course of a week in the fall of 2021, Sullivan worked with several instrumentalists for GOOSE, including players on mellotron, saxophone, clarinet, pedal steel, and strings to craft the album’s texture. She was inspired by artists such as Bill Callahan and Cate Le Bon, whose records feature sparse production that still occupies a lot of space. This concept can certainly be heard on GOOSE, which deftly infuses her melodies with an extensive instrumentation used sparingly at exactly the right moments, such as the atmospheric pedal steel on “Cannonball” and the clarinet countermelodies on “Like This Now.” The result is a subtle chamber-pop tone lightly touched by Americana, foregrounding Sullivan’s vocals that can both leap into floating highs and dig down into a husky alto range.

Most of the songs on GOOSE were written after Sullivan’s sobriety from alcohol in the spring of 2018, with songs such as “Biting Your Teeth” and “Still Trying” depicting that transition. “Biting Your Teeth” expresses the complete exhaustion and sickness felt in her final days of drinking, and “Still Trying” shares the hopefulness within her first few weeks of sobriety. Although the collection of songs on GOOSE were written during various times in her life, producer Sima Cunningham brought together the heterogeneity of Sullivan’s different periods of songwriting and shone them through a singular lens, creating a cohesion for a sound spanning years.

Another byproduct of Sullivan approaching songwriting as a daily practice includes the expansion of her lyrical content outside of romantic relationships or herself. Two tracks on GOOSE, “Eggshells” and “Lamb,” explore what happens to friendships when a person refuses to, and is arguably incapable of, seeing themselves as the culprit of unending dramas. Both songs mine the balancing act of trying to be a stable friend and while preserving one’s own mental health. On “Lamb,” Sullivan repeats “Can’t say nothin’ sacred / Rapid fire back fire / Can’t be an honest friend / Without losing my mind “Eggshell”’s building refrain of “Why’s it gotta be so hard?” is a relatable sentiment to anyone stuck in the mire with a valued friend.

Making GOOSE was as much of a learning experience in intentionality for Mol Sullivan’s life as it was for her as a songwriter. Throughout the album Sullivan pays tribute to her past while also celebrating the person she is now, marking a follow through on a promise she made to herself decades ago.