By Jen Zoratti
When local singer/songwriter Ruth Moody recorded her first solo album, 2010’s The Garden, it was one of those carpe diem moments.
She was on hiatus from her day job as the soaring soprano in Billboard-charting roots outfit The Wailin’ Jennys and making a full-length solo album was something she’d been wanting to do for a while.
The Garden went on to be nominated for a Juno, a Western Canadian Music Award and three Canadian Folk Music Awards. The title track was the fourth most-played song on North American Folk Radio in 2010. Ruth Moody, the solo artist, had arrived.
This week she released its follow-up, These Wilder Things, which makes good on the promise of that white-hot debut.
“I’m really happy with it,” Moody says of the record. “It’s been the focus of my life. It was a really important record for me in a lot of ways. I’m very proud of it.”
In addition to guest turns from her beloved Jennys, Heather Masse and Nicky Mehta, and her much-adored backing band, the new record also features contributions from Crooked Still vocalist Aoife O’Donovan, American lap steel player Jerry Douglas and British guitar god Mark Knopfler.
“That was a really exciting thing that happened. Mark approached me last year about singing on his record (2012’s Privateering), which I did, so I asked him if he’d sing on mine,” she says. “In a month we’re heading to Europe.”
These Wilder Things is a rock-solid sophomore album, impressive in both its lyrical maturity and musical scope – It also features a pretty righteous cover of Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 hit “Dancing in the Dark”.
“It ended up pushing the boundaries a little bit,” Moody says of the record. “It went to deeper — and wilder — places. The Garden is sort of a mellow album. This one is more intense, it has more of an urgency.”
The album also gets more personal, a response to dramatic shifts in Moody’s life. “It deals with loss and letting go and finding focus — all things we have to deal with.”
She doesn’t get into specifics, but admits “it’s a hard record to talk about because it was a hard record to make.” Still, Moody has come out on the other side with an assured album. What doesn’t kill you and all that.
“I do feel like I’m growing with every new experience,” she says. “I keep learning and getting better at what I do. I’m learning to be more present and less fearful.”
Ruth Moody releases These Wilder Things at the West End Cultural Centre on April 25 at 8 p.m with Ridley Bent.