By Pete Whalley
A six day residency at The Royal Albert Hall (albeit opening for Mark Knopfler) says a lot about the rising status of Ruth Moody, founder and current member of Billboard topping band The Wailin’ Jennys.
Produced and engineered by David Travers-Smith, her second Americana/roots solo album These Wilder Things sees Moody at the top of her game and includes cameo guest appearance from Knopfler on the haunting ‘Pockets’.
The album also boasts appearances by a host of luminaries of the country roots scene including, notably, Union Station’s Jerry Douglas and Jenny band mates Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse. Others include Knopfler’s (post Dire Straits) touring band members Mike McGoldrick and John McCusker as well as Moody’s fellow countryman Kevin Breit. They may not household names, but trust me, they’re masters of their craft.
The result is an excellent crossover album – measured by the inclusion of a beautifully interpretive version of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’. The country/bluegrass inspired playing is exemplary throughout, but it’s Moody’s pitch perfect vocals that enchant and will captivate listeners.
These Wilder Things throws down a gauntlet to Alison Krauss’s dominance of the genre over recent years and also serves as a useful reminder of Sarah McLachlan’s absence from the scene. If Knopfler isn’t careful next time around he could find the support/headline roles reversed. ****