Ruth Moody in Review

Duluth News Moody’s first solo album something to remember

Posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2010.

CD review: Moody’s first solo album something to remember

Ruth Moody is a name you’ll want to remember and a voice you won’t soon forget.The Canadian chanteuse is a multi-instrumentalist, superb songwriter, and just has one of those voices … bold and brassy one minute, whispery and haunting the next. It jumps out of the mix on her brand-new release “The Garden” that hit the street last week. That this is just her first full-length solo effort is amazing.

The author describes her project this way: “Gardens, like the seasons, are symbols of life and its cycles. They have always been magical places for me … where the tiniest seeds are planted and grow into beautiful expressions of life.”

The title selection features Moody’s rootsy banjo playing underscoring text inspired by a theme from Voltaire’s “Candide.” Moody says “the idea was that we must all work on our gardens and make our little corner of the world beautiful in whatever way we can.” Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan adds gorgeously sympathetic harmony vocals.

“Cold Outside” is a languid song of longing with electric guitar from Kevin Breit (k.d.lang). “Travelin’ Shoes” is the story of morphing from caterpillar to butterfly. “We Can Only Listen” has some rhythmic snap and is an unexpectedly lovely duet with Matt Peters: “We cannot choose the ones we love, when our hearts they speak so loudly, we can only listen.”

Moody is a Juno — Canadian Grammy — Award-winning songwriter from Winnipeg. She’s a founding member of the acoustic supergroup the Wailin’ Jennys; the former lead singer of the Canadian roots band Scruj MacDuhk (the group became the Duhks); and has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” more than a dozen times.

Showcasing her piano chops on “Never Said Goodbye,” Moody tells a story of regret and resignation that encompasses the moving cello of Leane Zacharias; voice, cello and piano meld into a singular entity. “We Could Pretend” has a Norah Jones kind of intimate, relaxed flow. Ukulele provides the underpinning on “Closer Now,” a duet with Jenny sister Heather Masse.

St. Paul’s little indie label Red House Records is home to this brand-new effort and has produced a disarmingly high percentage of the finest acoustic music projects of the past few years. Check out this stunning debut full of sterling songs and Ruth Moody’s dazzling voice at your first opportunity.

Ruth Moody / “The Garden” Genre: Contemporary folk/Americana Recommended if you like: k.d. lang, Norah Jones, Gillian Welch Label: Red House Records Producer: David Travers-Smith Website: Personnel: Ruth Moody (vocals, guitar, banjo, piano, ukulele, accordion), Kevin Breit (guitar), Luke Doucet (guitar), Matt Peters (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Heather Masse (vocals), Aoife O’Donovan (vocals)