Back in April of 2023, Molly Parden starting rolling out a handful of new songs. At the time, there was very little context provided that they may be part of a larger body of work. The first, “Cigarette,” is a minimal composition teeming with subtle arrangements – a keyboard hum, an ethereal background vocal, a whimsical swirl followed by a mysterious growl – all in support of Parden’s introspective and delicate admissions. Five more singles followed suit, each wonderfully personal and rewarding upon revisitation.
The now available full-length Sacramented is Parden’s third long player and she’s clearly matured into a new state of being. The record is articulate and nuanced; both musically and lyrically. Listening through top to bottom on cursory listen, you may foolishly think the record is sparse. However, each song is filled with flourishes and elements that are worth appreciating. These arrangements are beautiful but can’t be fully appreciated without truly listening. Parden’s voice is delicate but not broken, her delivery confident even when it’s quiet. In a word, it’s intentioned – never without purpose and keen thoughtfulness.
Parden is a deft enough songwriter that there’s no way to know if the lyrical content throughout Sacramented are stories being woven from thin air or highly personal experiences. Regardless of their source, they weave a powerful tale of exhuming a great weight. Reading the proverbial tea leaves just a little bit, the past tense state of the title insinuates a journey that is now complete. A sacrament is ritual of acknowledgement and, in this case, maybe that ritual has now passed. Letting go is always the hardest part.
Finding the balance of truly emotional subject matter mixed with arrangements that reward relistening and a performance that is empowered but thoughtful is a nearly impossible combination. Fortunately, Sacramented is not your average record.