“There’s no template. There’s no timeline. It’s only when you start comparing yourself that you feel inadequate,” said local singer-songwriter Molly Durnin, not just of her career as a musician, but of her will to press on.
The raw writing on her new folk record, It’s Fine, is a whole different type of writing than her 2012 album, Run. At the time, she was new to performing and still living in her native Upstate New York earning a degree in civil engineering when she was encouraged to turn her dabbling into a finished product.
“The first album was so innocent and so new,” Durnin said. “I was so green. And then, nine years later, so much life happened to me.”
Local rhythm and blues outfit Sufferin’ Moses were Durnin’s backing band on It’s Fine, and frontman Zach Quillen produced the album at Fairweather Studios on Johns Island. You can hear guitar from both Quillen and singer-songwriter Dale Baker, with Corey Stephens on bass, Sean Harshaw on drums, Nick Brewer on keys and Austin Fitzhenry on cello.
The stripped-back country blues heard on the new album is steered by Durnin’s rhythm guitar and mournful, cutting vocals. It’s Fine establishes an equilibrium between gritting your teeth and remaining open-handed.
The title track, “It’s Fine,” is Durnin transforming life’s contempt into a self declaration, setting the confident tone she carries through each song as she sorts through the grating realities of trauma.
“I put it out as a single, and the response I got was unexpected,” she said. “I couldn’t believe the messages I was getting from people — people who I thought had their shit together — saying, ‘Wow, Molly, I have been struggling with my mental health and this song makes me feel not alone,’ or ‘I needed this song today.’ ”
On the song “Behind This Door (You Got Me Where You Want Me),” Durnin sings about domestic violence, delicately removing the veil over the truth.
“I was in an abusive relationship. I wrote that song to reclaim my identity,” Durnin said. “I’m not going to let that abuse define me, but I’m also going to put it out there and let people know I did go through that. To be brave is to talk about it. To be brave is to not brush it under the rug. It’s always the things you keep to yourself that make you feel alienated and isolated.”
This particular song is co-written with her mom, singer-songwriter Carolyn Odell Durnin, who performs an acoustic version on a hidden track at the end of the album.
“The moment of telling your family is like taking the veil off,” Durnin said of the sweet yet heartbreaking relief that comes when you stop pretending, which is captured in essence by the mother-daughter collaboration.
“Looking back, I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, that was so bad.’ But it got me here; it got me to put this album out. I feel like I have followed the journey I was supposed to be on.”
Listen to Durnin’s latest album on Spotify: