by Katie Rankin
Molly Rankin [no relation] is a bit of an anomaly on Prince Edward Island. She’s a female singer-songwriter more likely to be found opening for sweaty indie rock bands at a bar rather than strumming her acoustic guitar at a cozy coffee shop. Along with her band, she plays folk-pop songs about love, heartbreak and loss, drawing influences from a range of music including Abba, Roy Orbison and The Smiths.
Rankin’s backing band is a rotating mish-mash of band members from Two Hours Traffic, Boxer the Horse and The Danks. “This is sort of a stereotypical thing to say but I’ve always been around boys,” she explains. Last time she checked her line-up included Phil MacIssac on drums, Alec O’Hanley on guitar, Andy MacDonald on bass and Jeremy Gaudet on guitar. “I’ve learned over time that at practice you have to be like, ‘No I don’t like that,’ and as soon as you show a little bit of backbone they have more respect for you.”
Since moving to PEI two years ago Rankin has been embraced by the music community. This winter she nabbed three PEI Music Awards including Female Vocalist of the Year for her recording SHE EP. However she admits joining the tight-knit scene wasn’t easy. “It was so intimidating, but I was sort of friends with everyone and they’re actually playing with me. The bands that I thought were cool—some of the guys were on stage with me.”
Rankin grew up in rural Cape Breton where she learned to create her own fun in a town where the closest movie theatre was two hours away. It was also where she was surrounded by her famous musical family. She says some of her songs, like fan favourite “Way Home,” have a Celtic melody. “It slips in no matter what, it’s just been ingrained.” Rankin and her band work to find balance between her lyrics and their instruments. “It’s always hard to find a good mix of heaviness and letting the songs breath, but I sort of eased into it in a natural way.”