Molly O’Leary (they/them) is proud to announce the upcoming release of Marigold, due out February 23, 2024. On their new album, the indie musician and songwriter from New Bedford, MA charts the highs and lows of their own formidable (and ongoing) journey towards healing, self-acceptance, and self-actualization. Marigold was recorded in Nashville with producer (and Grammy-nominated songwriter in his own right) Will Hoge, and today with the album announcement O’Leary shares the title track. “Marigold” is a spirited entreaty written for a good friend going through a challenging experience with grief and loss. The song showcases O’leary’s enthralling and evocative vocal style, akin to influences like Alanis Morrisette, Jewel and Brandi Carlile, while tracing a sonic palette favorably comparable to the indie folk/rock of artists like Girlpool, Mirah and Azure Ray.
Listen to the new single and album title track “Marigold”
“I wrote ‘Marigold’ for one of my best friends who was/is going through a hard time with grief and loss,” shares O’Leary. “I wrote it to let her know that, even though I can’t change things, I will always sit with her through the grief. Marigold flowers symbolize the sun and light and hope. They connect us with loved ones who have passed onto the next life, which is why they’re used in the Day of the Dead holiday in Mexico. For this reason, I had an artist and good friend of mine who lives in Mexico (Frida Garcia) paint the artwork for the album/single cover.”
Molly O’Leary has long used their songwriting as a form of activism to raise awareness about mental health and social justice. The art serving as a companion to their professional work as a practicing therapist (O’Leary now works part time in private practice, having previously been on staff as an elementary school counselor). Yet Marigold represents an artistic breakthrough mirroring O’Leary’s own progress in their journey towards healing, giving rise to their most lyrically personal and musically explorative work to date. “This album feels like an explosion of what I always dreamed my music would be,” shares O’Leary. “And thematically, I think this album is much more mature than my first.”
They attribute these breakthroughs to the culmination of nearly a decade of therapy and growth, some of which came through on their previous LP Holding Space. “That record is largely about me recovering from an eating disorder,” says O’Leary, “I don’t think I was able to start addressing my PTSD symptoms more significantly until the eating disorder was addressed because it also made me feel so outside of my body.” On Marigold O’Leary brings the listener along as they explore a newfound space to confront deeper seeded wounds. “Wild” is an incredibly personal song about the repercussions of being a surviver of sexual assault, while “Haunted House” further delves into the lasting impacts of such a traumatic event, with O’Leary detailing the flashbacks and nightmares that can live on long after.
It’s in directly addressing painful moments from the past that O’Leary has been able to move through those feelings and memories to get to a place where they can better understand and express their true self in the present, and feel safe in doing so. Those revelations come through on the latter half of the album, where on tracks like “J Walker”, O’Leary unpacks the process of coming out as nonbinary at 26, starting with fear and lingering religious trauma, and then pivots to the acceptance they felt among supportive friends and allies. “The second half of the song holds so much queer joy,” shares O’Leary, “which is something I really want to leave listeners with. Queer friends are out there waiting for you with their arms wide open.” The song “A Room With A View” is similarly hopeful, described by O’Leary as “a celebration of getting to the light at the end of a tunnel after a long rough patch with the person you love.”
The progress and growth O’Leary makes thematically with Marigold extends to the recording and production on the album as well. “Recording with Will Hoge and team was honestly one of the best experiences of my life,” they share. O’Leary met Hoge after opening up for one of his co-headline gigs with Thursday’s Geoff Rickly in Boston in the spring of ‘22. “Geoff and Will and their bandmates were instantly so supportive of me and my music and asked me so many questions and gave so much advice. I emailed Will to thank him the day after that show and not long after he asked me if I’d be interested in recording a record with him. And I was like wtf is happening right now????? Yes.” David Axelod served as engineer on the album, while celebrated Nashville drummer Megan Coleman and keyboard player Mark Masefield lent their talent and inspiration to their parts on the songs. “My vocals also feel worlds stronger than my first album,” says O’Leary” and I had a ton of harmony ideas that were mixed in by Gabe Masterson so beautifully.”
If their last album Holding Space was the beginning of the healing process, Marigold “captures bigger breakthroughs and ultimately freedom,” says O’Leary. The whole record culminates with the declarative “I Deserve To Be Here”, a sentiment they apply to their decision to quit their full-time counseling job to further pursue their art, as well as their increased confidence in their sense of belonging within the universe as a whole. Secure within themselves and confident in pursuing their dreams with their loving spouse and cats Loki and Luna at their side cheering them on.