By Paul Pledger
Juno Award-winning Canadian vocal-harmony trio, The Wailin’ Jennys, have for me released one of the strongest Americana-cum-roots albums this year with the exquisite “Bright Morning Stars”, which has gone largely unnoticed by the rest of the human-race. Honestly, you’d think it was a good album or something.
One of the threesome, soprano Ruth Moody, clearly has more in her talented canon than contributions to the group because she was busy forging ahead with her own debut release during the months before her pal’s latest opus. “The Garden”, originally pieced together in 2010, is pretty much more of the same, though a little more straightforward with a full band behind her. On the strength of the first three songs, I already get the feeling we’re onto a winner.
The opening title-track is as pretty as it gets, starting as a solemn banjo and string-driven lullaby before drifting into a fully-grown anthem, “Cold Outside” is as charming as a snow-flurry (especially when she intones her ‘baby’ to ‘come inside – you know you want to’) and “Travellin’ Shoes” reminds me of The Lilac Time with its hazy druggy pedal-steel and lyrical imagery.
In fact, the quality of Moody’s melodies and atmospheric touches rarely dips below average, which leaves me thinking that her upcoming January and February shows might be the perfect cosy antidote to braving the impending bitter weather we normally get during these months. Ruth Moody’s sound is like opening your flask, pouring out the contents and finding it’s the best bloody coffee you’ve had for years.
The middle of the album does what most middle-of-albums do – it dwells without the bells on and minus the whistles with “Winter Waltz” and “Nest” simply bobbing around waiting to be rescued from a sea of melancholia – mind you, the ‘picking of sweet cherries to our hearts’ content’ sounds like paradise on the latter song.
The album’s only failing? It might have been a total reward had Ruth Moody taken a few risks with the arrangements, but there’s no denying that this is the type of music that might just persuade you to stoke up the fire, crack open a bottle, cuddle up with your chosen companion and leave the outside world to others.