One-third of the excellent roots/folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth Moody now steps out on her own with The Garden (April 20, Red House), an extraordinary, intimate collection of twelve modern acoustic Americana songs. While Moody has contributed to the Jennys’ collective repertoire and released an EP of original material in 2002, The Garden is her full-length debut — and one that makes us ask “what took you so long?” Produced by David Travers-Smith (Jane Siberry, Ani DeFranco). the album is also the perfect bookend to fellow Wailin’ Jenny Heather Masse’s lovely Bird Song solo release from last November and helps set the stage for a new Wailin’ Jennys studio project later this year. The Garden is the album equivalent of a “house concert”, an upclose-and-personal experience that perfectly frames Moody’s gentle, ethereal voice with her own — and her superb studio guests’ — multi-instrumental backing of string instruments: music that wears it’s traditional garb loosely. There’s no doubt that Moody has a fondness for the classic fiddle and banjo bluegrass sound but, applied to her own neo-folk melodies, the overall effect is fresh, organic and invigorating, a simple, luxuriant production that never over steps. There’s not one weak track on The Garden but we’re immediately drawn to the quietly mesmerizing and sensuous “Cold Outside” with Moody’s warm, honey-and-lemon vocals, gently plucking banjo and steel guitar atmospherics drawing the listener in. “Come inside, stay awhile,” she sings, “you know you want to.” And who are we to resist? Highly recommended.
Direct Current Music
Posted on Saturday, March 13th, 2010.