By Mike Davies for www.netrhythms.co.uk
A swift follow-up to 2011’s solo debut, The Garden, the Wailing Jennys’ soprano’s sophomore release offers more of the same, with another collection of bluegrass flecked Americana . Not that there’s likely to be any complaints about not exploring new ground, since what the Australian born multi-instrumentalist does she does with grace and style.
Of the ten numbers, nine are self-penned, kicking off with the trad American folk flavoured, banjo accompanied Trouble And Woe with brother Richard on viola and following on with the poppier One And Only which, as on the debut, sees the trio’s other members, Heather Masse and Nicky Mehta, joining her on backing vocals and harmonies.
It’s a mark of the confidence in her own material that the cover of Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark appears early in the running order, Moody giving it a still jaunty but more restrained and reflective reading with Jacob Jolliff providing bluegrass colours on mandolin. Proof that her confidence is well founded follows with the title track, a wistful, heartbreaking song of letting go which, frosted with a Celtic mist and sung with plaintive purity, quotes poet John O’Donohue in the line ‘I will waste my heart on fear no more’ and fades out to the strains of a colliery brass band.
If she never manages to top this emotional catharsis, nor does she let the standard slip, numbers such as Trees For Skies, the delicate lost love piano ballad Make A Change and the ripplingly lovely, hopeful One Light Shining, where she’s joined by vocalist Aoife O’Donovan and dobro wizard Jerry Douglas all beautifully sublime.
As with her debut, she’s also joined by some special guests: another end of love number, the achingly sad Pockets features Mark Knopfler (whom she supported at his London shows as well as singing on Privateering) on backing vocals and trademark moody guitar while Life Is Long, a moving yet uplifting song of loss, mortality and memory, is given a spiritual Celtic soul courtesy of Mike McGoldrick and John McCusker.
The album ends with Moody back on gently picked banjo for the delightfully old-fashioned feel of Nothing Without Love, a touching number about trying to find somewhere to land and build a life and a relationship in a world where you’re always running from case to case, place to place. Wilder Things, you make my heart sing.