Reviews

Ruth Moody in Review

  1. CONNECT SAVANNAH Wailin’ Ruth Moody One-third of Canada’s top folk group tests the waters as a solo – November, 2011
  2. NetRhythms.co.uk Review – November, 2011
  3. Edmonton Journal Songs of contentment emerge from singer’s chaotic life – November, 2011
  4. Winnipeg Free Press Moody, Jennys share five folk award nominations – October, 2011
  5. ideastream Around Noon – October, 2011
  6. MUSIC matters REVIEWS – January, 2011
  7. Bob Harris – Best of 2010 tracks – December 28th, 2010
  8. UPTOWN MAG – Features: In full bloom – December 2nd, 2010
  9. THE LONDON FREE PRESS – November 26th, 2010
  10. Penguin Eggs Magazine – October, 2010
  11. The Long Journey – bcmai – September, 2010
  12. UPTOWN MAG – Rating: A – August 25th, 2010
  13. Vancouver Province – August 24, 2010
  14. Toronto Star – August 23rd, 2010
  15. Alberta Local News – August 20, 2010
  16. Rhythms Magazine – August 18, 2010 — Feature Article
  17. pour down like silver blog review – August 6, 2010
  18. Huffington Post Feature Article – August 6, 2010
  19. exclaim.ca – Ruth Moody The Garden… – July, 2010
  20. TheRecord.com – Superior songwriters… – July 22, 2010
  21. Winnipeg Free Press – Folk by Morley Walker – July Review
  22. Folk Roots/Folk Branches with Mike Regenstreif – July Review
  23. Music Austrailia Guide – July Review
  24. Rhythms – Australia’s leading roots music magazine
  25. FAME (Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange)!
  26. Fish Records – Review
  27. June issue of Maverick UK
  28. Duluth News Tribune.com: Moody’s first solo album something to remember
  29. All music guide review – May 2010
  30. Direct Current Music – March 13, 2010
  31. Village records – March, 2010

 

CONNECT SAVANNAH, Wailin’ Ruth Moody One-third of Canada’s top folk group tests the waters as a solo – November, 2011

The Wailin’ Jennys are sort of a Canadian folk music version of Crosby, Stills & Nash — each member of the harmonizing trio had an illustrious career before coming together, and each, despite the group’s tremendous success, maintains a healthy schedule of solo writing, recording and performing.

Ruth Moody, born in Australia but raised from a very young age in Winnipeg, Manitoba, co–founded the Wailin’ Jennys in 2002 with Nicky Mehta and Cara Luft, who departed the band two years later. Since 2007, the third chair has been filled by Heather Masse, whose other project is a jazz/Americana band called Heather & the Barbarians.

Through more than a dozen appearances on A Prairie Home Companion, two albums that reached the upper regions of Billboard’s bluegrass chart (Firecracker and Bright Morning Stars), several Juno awards and near–constant touring, the Jennys have become one of Canada’s most dependable musical exports.

A former member of the Celtic/roots band Scruj MacDuhk, Moody is the group’s soprano, and she plays guitar, piano, banjo, ukulele and accordion on 2010’s The Garden, her first solo album, which – unlike the Jennys’ recordings, which are all about harmony – puts the spotlight squarely on her heart–on–sleeve songwriting and exquisite voice.

With some of Canada’s finest bluegrass and folk musicians, she’s formed the Ruth Moody Band, and their current tour brings them to the Lucas Theatre Saturday, Dec. 3.

The very next day, the annual Canadian Folk Music Awards will be handed out in Toronto. Moody and The Garden have three nominations, the Wailin’ Jennys another three.

We spoke with Moody this week and asked some obvious questions.

The Wailin’ Jennys have a new EP out, yet here you are touring as a solo. Don’t people generally go on the road to promote their new record?

Ruth Moody: The EP was sort of an iTunes exclusive that we did. It wasn’t a full–on record that we were gonna tour – we thought it would be a perfect thing to kind of tide people over while we were off the road. There’s all sort of different things that artists do now to make it work for them, which is great because we can be more creative with what we do, and we have a little bit more control, which is nice.

Just to let people know … the Jennys haven’t split up, right?

Ruth Moody: Oh no, no, of course not. The Jennys are off the road for a year so that Nicky can be a mom, finally. We’ve been on the road with twins for two years, and she always said that when the twins turned 2, we would take a bit of a break so that she could actually, you know …. Because the older they get, the harder it is to tour with them. They’re running around. So that’s what she’s focusing on right now, and Heather and I are focusing on our own stuff for a little while. And in a year – or maybe a year and a half, depending on when we actually want to record again – we’ll be back on the road.

Was there a thought before that, “I think I want to try something by myself”?

Ruth Moody: The thing about this band is that we’ve always been three singer/songwriters. We’ve always been three artists that have done different things. It wasn’t like we weren’t doing things before the Jennys happened. We’ve always wanted to honor our individual careers as well. I’ve been making music with all sorts of different people since I was a teenager, so it just kind of happened. And it seemed like it was the right time because we had a whole year off. I literally hadn’t had any time to record anything solo since I put out my EP in 2002, because the Jennys were so busy. If I’d had the time I would have, because I love recording and I love writing.

Did you think that it might just be nice to have an outlet for the stuff you were writing that might not have worked for the Jennys?

Ruth Moody: Possibly. I’ve definitely written songs where I’ve though hmm, where does this belong? Maybe I’ll have to put it aside and wait until I see what its home is. And I think my stuff that I do on my own is slightly more … intimate, maybe, and slightly more reflective or introspective. Because of the full–on vocals and the harmonies, the Jennys is a bigger statement – there are a lot of celebratory songs. It’s just a bit more extroverted in a way, I guess. I don’t know if that makes sense.

I guess there was some thought put into it, but it happened very naturally. It was right at the time when Nicky wanted to take a year off. I felt like I was ready to explore that, so it worked out really well.

Will the experience of working with your own band affect what the Jennys do once you reconvene? Do you always bring a little piece of your experiences there?

Ruth Moody: I think we all do. When we took a break the first time, we all came back refreshed and really excited. We spent this week together in May 2009 where we arranged all the material for Bright Morning Stars, and it was so exciting to have taken a bit of a break and come back together with all these fresh ideas and new energy.

Obviously, when something has momentum you have to go with it and give it all you’ve got. But at the same time, the more balance you have in life, the more you can bring to those things. Because if you tour a project 10 months a year, you’re gonna run out of scope for writing and arranging. We’ve always found that after a break we’re so charged up and excited to sing together. And after we’ve been touring for six months, we always feel like we need a break so that we can write songs and remember what else life is about.

Are you enjoying flexing your muscles as a solo, or are you just sort of biding your time until the group gets back together?

Ruth Moody: I definitely would love to make a new record soon. It’s something that I’m starting to think about as I’m booking shows for next year. Because I’m realizing that you have to plan these things. I’m touring the U.K. in January and February, so at this point I won’t be able to record until the spring.

But I probably have enough for a new record now, and I have some ideas for writing as well. But of course sometimes things don’t go as planned. I’m not sure when it’s gonna happen.

I’ve been touring and playing showcases now, nonstop, since September, so I haven’t really had a break. And I’m starting to feel like OK, this touring is fun, and I love performing, but I’m kind of missing just having the time to just “be” and experience life, and write. Next year I’m going to make that a priority so that I can keep those creative juices flowing.

— Bill DeYoung

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NetRhythms.co.uk Review – November, 2011

Although born in Australia, Moody was reared in Manitoba and the soul of the Canadian prairies inhabits the music she makes as part of female folk harmony trio The Wailin’ Jennys. No surprise then to hear it too on her debut solo album and its rootsy, sometimes bluegrass flecked songs of loving, losing and leaving.

As you’d expect fellow Jennys Heather Masse and Nicky Mehta also put in an appearance, joining her in harmony for the album’s last track, the simple trad-folk flavoured Closer Now, but while the album’s focus is Moody’s light, pure soprano (not to forget her banjo, uke, accordion and piano) there’s plenty of other guests lending a hand.

Bluegrass outfit Crooked Still are the backing band on the title track opener, Oh Susanna provides backing vocals on the steady rhythm, slow building country coloured Travellin’ Shoes on which Luke Doucet plays pedal steel and electric guitar, putting in a second appearance for the soulful guitar solo on We Could Pretend.

Reflecting prairie seasons, the moods swing from the summery fiddle blown breezes of Nest and the balmy autumnal evening feel of melancholic piano ballad Never Said Goodbye to the appropriately chillier atmospheres of Colder Now’s seductive invitation and Winter Waltz.

‘Come and find me in the garden’, she sings. It’ll be easy, she’s the prize bloom.

— Mike Davies

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Edmonton Journal Songs of contentment emerge from singer’s chaotic life – November, 2011

It might be telling that Ruth Moody has named her first full-length solo album The Garden when she doesn’t even have time to dig one of her own.

The Winnipeg-based singer-songwriter and founding member of the Wailin’ Jennys could have taken time off to work the soil during her group’s hiatus, but instead she turned right back to her guitar and the road.

“It’s a good challenge, and a way to grow as a musician,” she says from her parents’ home in Victoria, resting after a 20-hour van ride from the States. “It’s beneficial to do something new, to learn different skills and step out of my comfort zone.”

Produced by Juno nominee David Travers-Smith, with appearances by Kevin Breit (Norah Jones, k.d. lang), Luke Doucet, Crooked Still and the Wailin’ Jennys, The Garden has come about during bandmate Nicky Mehta’s pregnancy and maternity leave from the group.

Released in April 2010, it picked up a Juno nomination for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year, as well as a pile of glowing reviews worldwide.

She’s taken it on the road across North America, with Adam Dobres (guitar), Adrian Dolan of the Bills (fiddle, viola, mandolin and accordion) and bassist Gilles Fournier as her backup band.

“It’s definitely a different experience for me,” she notes. “With the Jennys, I had time to tune while Nicky or Heather (Masse) told a story, but with me as the sole focus there’s no down time. There’s only one singer-songwriter, just one musical flavour, so it takes a lot more concentration. But that’s good for me because I’m trying to be more in the moment, and find a place in the performance where I’m not thinking about it so much.”

Being “in the moment” is a theme that Moody not only applies to her onstage performance but in the lyrics to a few of the songs on her album as well.

“Mindfulness is definitely one of them; accepting what is and not struggling so much against the grain of life. The Garden itself is a song about taking cues from nature, recognizing that nature knows what to do and doesn’t think about it. It was also taken from (a quote from) Voltaire’s Candide, that you have to cultivate your garden.

“We’re so obsessed with controlling the outcome of everything, but we need to be a bit more accepting of things. We have a responsibility to do that, to make our corner of the world as beautiful as we can.”

Moody’s tour will take her across Canada, back into the States (where she’ll perform in some Christmas concerts), and then to the U.K., where she’ll play as part of the Celtic Connections Transatlantic Sessions tour.

The work continues, with the Jennys picking up again in a year or so. Moody concedes that the constant chaos of her life doesn’t necessarily reflect her philosophical beliefs.

“I guess that’s why I had to write a song called The Garden,” she says with a laugh. “Because I actually don’t have one of my own, and I do dream of it. I’m trying to accept that this is what is happening right now, and for the foreseeable future. I really am a workaholic, and in the future I might have to make a conscious decision to not work, just garden.”

— Tom Murray

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Winnipeg Free Press Moody, Jennys share five folk award nominations – October, 2011

Releasing a solo album while waiting for the Wailin’ Jennys to record a new release didn’t hurt Ruth Moody or her band.

Moody’s solo album, The Garden, and the Wailin’ Jennys’ disc, Bright Morning Stars, are nominated for a combined five Canadian Folk Music Awards. Moody is up for solo artist of the year, new/emerging artist and the pushing the boundaries award, while the Wailin’ Jennys are nominated for vocal group and ensemble of the year.

Additionally, Bright Morning Stars’ producer, Mark Howard, was nominated for producer of the year for his work on the album.

The awards will be handed out Dec. 4 at the seventh annual CFMAs in Toronto.

Seven different Manitoba artists and a production team were nominated for 10 different awards. Other nominees include Cat Jahnke for contemporary singer of the year; Les Surveillantes for French songwriter; Vince Fontaine and Don Amero for aboriginal songwriter; Trio Bembe for world artist: group; and Steve Bell, Dave Keglinski and Murray Pulver for producer of the year for their work on Bell’s Kindness).

Former Winnipeg duo Twilight Hotel is up for contemporary album and the pushing the boundaries award for When the Wolves Go Blind.

Veteran singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn and Nova Scotia artist Dave Gunning lead the list of nominees with four nominations each.

— Winnipeg Free Press – Staff Writer

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ideastream Around Noon – October, 2011

Dee Perry welcomes Juno-award-winning bluegrass vocal trio The Wailin’ Jennys into the Key Bank studio for a live performance before their concert at The Kent Stage.

— Dee Perry

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MUSIC matters REVIEWS – January, 2011

Ruth Moody is the acclaimed soprano voice of the Wailin’ Jennys. She is also a wonderful singer-songwriter who is as comfortable singing with a piano as she is with banjo and mandolin. Her classically trained voice makes her capable of hitting and holding incredibly pure and lovely notes, but it is the fact that her singing is full of feeling and personality that makes her so appealing. With the variety of styles and arrangements, I was surprised to note that Moody wrote all of the songs. In particular “Travellin’ Shoes” struck me as funky folk-rock cover of a Townes Van Zandt song. As for the playing on the album, there is a long list of outstanding guest musicians including Luke Doucet, Kevin Breit, Crooked Still and her Wailin’ Jennys partners, but Moody’s own playing on piano, guitar, banjo and ukulele impresses with its sophistication and attention to tone. The production is as polished as the talent, making this a great-sounding example of what is possible when musicianship meets creativity.

— Michael Devlin

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Bob Harris – Best of 2010 tracks – December 28th, 2010

Been thinking about ‘best of the year’ tracks – tried to limit to 10 but too difficult, so here’s my top 20, not in order (they’d make a rather nice ‘best of CD’!). Looking forward to others being suggested…

Mark Erelli – Basement days Sandi Thom – The sadness Ray LaMontagne – For the summer Band of Horses – Compliments Iain Morrison – A Lewis summer The Villagers – Set the tigers free Kate Walsh – Monochrome Ben Glover – Where the lines are Breabach – Greenfields Meg Hutchinson – Hopeful Things ahab – Rosebud Will Kevans – Heaven Paul Brady – Luck of the draw Jim Moray – Jenny of the moor Mary Chapin Carpenter – I put my ring back on Louis Eliot & The Embers – Clown shoes Allison Moorer – The stars and I Kris Drever – Shining star Ruth Moody – Never say goodbye Anais Mitchell – I raise my cup to him

— Bob Harris

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UPTOWN MAG – Features: In full bloom – December 2nd, 2010

Ruth Moody brings her solo debut, The Garden, home to Winnipeg

Is there anything Ruth Moody can’t do?

Not only is she a gifted, heartfelt songwriter and a deft multi-instrumentalist (she plays guitar, banjo, piano, accordion and ukulele), the 34-year-old has also wowed many a crowd with her ethereal pipes as a founding member of Winnipeg’s renowned roots trio The Wailin’ Jennys.

Now Moody is stepping into the spotlight with her solo debut, The Garden — an intimate, affecting collection of Americana-flavoured songs that serves as a gorgeous showcase for her strong, seductive soprano. (Moody also had a little help from some friends, including guitar aces Luke Doucet and Kevin Breit, Crooked Still, Oh Susanna and, of course, her Jennys.)

Uptown called up Moody in advance of her hometown CD release show at the West End, which will feature guest appearances by Royal Canoe’s Matt Peters (who co-wrote a song on the record), JP Hoe and Moody’s equally talented siblings, violist/fiddler Richard Moody (The Bills), Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra violinist Rachel Moody and cellist Jane Moody.

Uptown: How has the solo tour been going so far? I know it’s a new experience for you.

Ruth Moody: It’s been going well! The reception’s been great. It’s been an amazing experience for me. Obviously, it’s so different from playing with the Jennys. I have an amazing band — I have my Man-boys with me so I’m not going it alone (the Man-boys are her brother Richard, Justin Haynes and Joe Phillips). I still get to experience collaboration onstage, but it’s very different taking the reins and making all the decisions. There are parts I love, and then there are other parts that are challenging. I miss my Jennys, for sure.

It’s been a great challenge for me. I’ve always been scared of doing this on my own and I’ve been avoiding it in a way.

What made you decide to finally take that step?

There were several factors. The Jennys went on a hiatus, so we were all kind of free to do whatever we wanted. I wanted to do a solo album for a long time and it felt like the right time to do it. I wanted to approach music from a different angle — which I think also allows you to return to your main project refreshed. I’m still a very proud and happy Jenny, but I wanted to try it on my own. I feel really lucky because I’ve been able to do both.

I know when the Jennys went on hiatus, it was partly because Nicky (Mehta) was having her twin boys (Beck and Finn, who were born in July 2009) and partly because you guys just needed a break. And then you went ahead and started another music project!

(laughs) It’s been a lot of work. In a way it was restorative because it was exciting, but now I’m starting to feel like I didn’t take a break.

Tell me about writing The Garden. Is your songwriting process much different than it is with the Jennys?

It’s not that different; I don’t go in with different intentions. I try to be open to whatever comes. Sometimes they’re Jennys songs and sometimes they’re solo songs. I had a bunch of songs ready to record for this record that were solo songs or Jennys songs, but then I got excited about recording. At the beginning of the hiatus, my brother went to India so I rented his house and really focused on playing and writing. I ended up writing half the record. I didn’t say, “I’m going to write a solo album.” It just happened.

Are you happy with the end result?

I’m so happy with it — I feel really proud of the songs. I think it reflects a phase in my life in a way, even though I didn’t set out to make it that way. When I listen to it, I don’t cringe or anything.

For me, it’s a really evocative record. It takes me to a very specific time and place.

That’s really great to hear. I think some of the songs are about that. With or Without You is about connecting to a place of stillness. We all get so carried away with busy-ness and stress and all this external noise. When people tell me this album takes them somewhere, I feel really happy. — JEN ZORATTI

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THE LONDON FREE PRESS – November 26th, 2010

On the road to Aeolian Hall, Ruth Moody is just putting the name of her solo tour’s band out there.

“They’re called my ‘Man Boys,” the Winnipeg singer-songwriter and Wailin’ Jennys’ soprano of her road warriors. Joining Moody at Aeolian Hall on Saturday are her brother Richard Moody (violin, viola, vocals), guitarist Justin Haynes and Orchestra London double bassist Joe Phillips.

The Man Boys? The Mann Buoys? The Manboyz? How does that go?

“I’ve never spelled it out, to be honest,” Moody says with a laugh. “It’s a fairly new thing – I’ll let you decide,” she says.

Multi-instrumentalist Moody and her Man Boys – that’s what it is going to say here – are touring to support her debut solo album The Garden (U.S. label Red House Records). The Garden has its own impressive guest list, including Canadian guitar aces Luke Doucet and Kevin Breit and Toronto-tied singer-songwriter Oh Susanna.

Still, Saturday’s lineup is impressive, too. In addition to his classical career, Phillips has played on Juno-nominated albums by The Wailin’ Jennys and fiddle ace Pierre Schryer. He’s worked with everyone from blues star Rita Chiarelli to ex-Londoner Andrew Downing’s chamber-jazz group Arts & Letters.

Toronto guitar and keyboard player Haynes can also bring the ukulele and other colours to the group.

The Moody siblings both sing on the tour and friends tell Ruth Moody they hear the brother and sister “as one.”

Richard Moody is heard on The Garden. He has also played with such roots acts as The Bills and The Wyrd Sisters.

The singer-songwriter is aware of their differences, but recognizes the deep family tie.

“From an outside perspective, we are very in tune with each other,” she says.

“We don’t have to explain things very much. That’s one thing I’ve noticed. I don’t have to explain what I mean.”

On Saturday, Richard Moody and Phillips will often be “doing a lot of beautiful lush bowing,” she says. Haynes will offer contemporary textures to go with her banjo and other instruments.

“Then you have this more classical and traditional sound coming from Joe and Richard. So it’s a really, really cool amalgamation of things,” Moody says.

— JAMES REANEY,

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Penguin Eggs Magazine – October, 2010

As a founding member of the The Duhks and the Wailin’ Jennies, Winnipeg’s Ruth Moody has already put together a 13-year career that most musicians should envy. Although being a member of a successful group is very satisfying, it is an entirely different matter putting yourself on the line alone to face criticism or compliments. Well, Moody has taken that giant step with her first solo release. And from here on in it is kudos that she’ll harvest from The Garden. The project showcases the voice she was blessed with, a voice that can be well associated with her family name.

It is a moody and wonderful collection of songs that Ruth can be very proud of. Although it is her project, she has a long list of guest artists helping weed, fertilize and making this garden grow, including the Jennies, former Duhks, Luke Doucet, Oh Susanna and Matt Peters, who does a wonderful duet with Ruth on their co-written song We Can Only Listen.

All in all, Moody has done a wonderful job on The Garden – a superb solo project from one of Canada’s premier musicians. Long may she continue gardening as we reap the benefits of her bounty.

— Les Siemieniuk

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The Long Journey – bcmai – September, 2010

Artista : Ruth Moody Label: Red House RHR-CD-230 Anno: 2010

Stili: Folk New Acoustic Music

di Remo Ricaldone

Membro fondatore del supergruppo folk canadese Wailin’ Jennys, già cantante con il nucleo originale della band che sarebbe diventata The Duhks, vincitrice dell’ambito premio Juno Award, più volte ospite del famoso programma radiofonico ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ oltre che polistrumentista e cantante dotata di una sensibilità non comune, Ruth Moody giunge solo ora all’atteso album solista.

A dire il vero nel 2002 aveva pubblicato un EP intitolato Blue Muse, ma questo è il suo vero debutto, lavoro lungamente meditato assieme al produttore David Travers-Smith. The Garden è un disco carico, già dal titolo, di simbolismi, l’importante ‘valvola di sfogo’ espressiva al di fuori di una amata band che però la costringe ad esprimersi in maniera limitata. Le dodici tracce di The Garden, ‘seminate’ nel corso degli ultimi anni da Ruth Moody, hanno così preso corpo formando un insieme equilibrato e propositivo che abbraccia il folk ma anche la canzone d’autore con elementi pop e americana. Gli arrangiamenti catturano l’attenzione per la cura e l’amore con cui sono stati assemblati, sia quando sono scarni e minimali sia quando vengono inseriti strumenti poco usuali all’ambito in cui si è sempre mossa Ruth Moody con le Wailin’ Jennys (organo, fiati, talvolta la pedal steel). Ideali per evidenziare e sottolineare pregevoli doti vocali e per dare un giusto risalto a melodie tanto semplici quanto efficaci.

E qui sta l’esperienza del produttore nell’inserire molti nomi importanti come membri dei Crooked Still, una delle più intriganti nuove band di ispirazione tradizionale, Kevin Breit (già collaboratore di Norah Jones e k.d. lang), Luke Doucet, singer-songwriter canadese, le stesse Wailin’ Jennys e molti altri artisti meno noti ma non meno bravi senza appesantire il suono ma regalando sfumature inusitate. L’iniziale The Garden, le godibili e radio-friendly Travelin’ Shoes e Closer Now, l’ispirata Nest, la pregnante Never Said Goodbye e le dolci Cold Outside e We Can Only Listen sono solo alcuni significativi esempi di quanto detto in precedenza, in un album dai toni soffusi a cui gli appassionati dei suoni acustici e folkie potranno accostarsi tranquillamente.

Fonte: The Long Journey anno 2010: A

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UPTOWN MAG – August 25th, 2010

Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of roots music, nor do I have any prior knowledge of The Wailin’ Jennys or Scruj MacDuhk. That being said, Ruth Moody’s solo full-length debut has converted me. Opening with a pair of delicate little tunes that set the stage for laid-back piano- and banjo-laced gems, this record is a sheer delight. Like lullabies for the back porch, all the tunes (especially Within Without You) are delivered through Moody’s delicate voice, which could put a smile on any listener’s face.

— Nick Friesen Rating: A

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Vancouver Province – August 24, 2010

This debut solo album is what Winnipeg’s Ruth Moody left the Wailin’ Jennys to do and it turns out to have been a heck of a good idea. From the delicate clawhammer playing on the opening “The Garden” through to the closing, waltz-time “Closer Now,” this is a dozen tracks of beautifully filigreed acoustic music. The nicely skipping “Travellin’Shoes” is a highlight. B+

— John P. McLaughlin

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Toronto Star – August 23rd, 2010

Here’s an ideal, gentle accompaniment to a summertime swing in a hammock. There’s no shortage of female singer-songwriters in any genre, but few lay it all out with the seductive grace of Ruth Moody, the Australian-born, Winnipeg-raised member of the Wailin’ Jennys. With the help of producer David Travers-Smith, Moody has decorated her first, full-length solo album with a dozen gorgeous musical excursions. Each pays some sort of homage to traditional country, with a discreet banjo lick here, some mandola or fiddle there, but these are highly personal, gently rendered ballads that transcend any one style. The discreet modulations in Moody’s silken vocals are seductive enough, but she also plays many of her own instruments, including guitar, piano and accordion. Top track: “The Garden.” The title track whispers this irresistible invitation, “O light surrounding me/ Sweet mystery/ In everything I see/ Come and find me in the garden . . .” Oh, yes.

★★★½

— John Terauds

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Alberta Local News – August 20, 2010

A founding and continuing member of The Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth Moody is one of the significant forces on the Canadian roots landscape. Her recently released album is more than impressive and should please those who appreciate her work with the Jennys.

Moody is a talented multi-instrumentalist and demonstrates her abilities on guitar, accordion, banjo, piano and ukulele throughout the dozen tracks contained on her debut, full-length effort.

With strong, insightful songwriting, Moody, a full-voiced soprano, carries this album well above the deluge of confessional diary writing that comprises much of nu-folk.

The gentle, lonesome eroticism of Cold Outside is instantly attractive. The contributions of Crooked Still to the title track are apparent and set the tone for an album of refreshing music.

Simultaneously intimate and welcoming, The Garden is a sparkling collection of songs and sounds that is immediately appealing and which holds up to thoughtful analysis.

— Donald Teplyske

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Rhythms Magazine – August 18, 2010 — Feature Article

Moody’s Blues

In between Wailin’ Jennys duties, Ruth Moody found time to write and record her first solo album.

She may have only spent the first six months of her life here, but we’re going to claim Ruth Moody as ‘the Australian Wailin’ Jenny’. Though Moody did return to her birth-place for a year when she was nineteen, she was raised (and ᆳsical musicians, Moody became intrigued by Celtic music and spent five years out front of Celtic/folk outfit Scruj MacDuhk after which she formed the female vocal trio The Wailin’ Jennys.

Though The Jennys have just completed recording a new record, it is her first solo album, The Garden, that Moody has phoned to discuss. It’s no great departure from the tones and genres mined by The Jennys (that outfit’s Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse both make cameos on the album), but is an exquisite showcase of Moody’s gentle voice and maturing song-craft. Besides singing lead vocals, Moody contributes acoustic guitar, banjo, piano, ukulele and accordion alongside a list of contributors as long as your arm.

“Yeah The Jennys are still in full swing so I’m doing both, which makes for kind of a crazy schedule,” Moody laughs. “But it’s great. It’s actually great to be doing both because I love working with The Jennys and I feel so lucky to be a part of that collaboration. And I’ve been very committed to it for eight years of my life now, almost nine years, so it’s a huge part of me. But at the same time it’s really a great thing to be able to do something different and take the reigns for a change. It felt like it was a really important thing for me to do as an artist and as a writer. So, yeah, I’m excited.”

Though the album’s production credits list a variety of recording locations and assistants, Moody reveals that the whole thing was completed in just a few months in Toronto.

“But yeah we did some overdubs in Winnipeg,” she adds. “I wanted to be able to invite a bunch of different guests, past collaborators and friends and just people whose musicianship I really respect. So I ended up getting Crooked Still recorded their part in Vermont, and my brother Richard was in India at the time so he recorded his part in India. It’s amazing what you can do these days with the internet and technology. So we took advantage of that. But at the same time most of the record was done in a very organic way – musicians in a room playing music. So yeah it was the best of both worlds I think.”

You can read about Crooked Still and their amazing new this issue, and Moody confirms that Aoife O’Donovan in particular is an inspiration in terms of her singing style and her unique interpretation of traditional music.

“Yeah it has,” Moody confirms that making a solo record has been significant in the evolution of discovering her own voice. “It’s been a really important step. I was brought up in a musical family and so I suppose, well first of all we were exposed to a lot of classical music and um we were trained classically. But I never really had a classical, or I never had an operatic voice, ᆳtext. And my siblings were all great string players so I felt a little bit like the odd one out and I felt like I needed to find my niche. But I don’t have a rock and roll voice either, ᆳing journey for me really finding my voice. And I think I’ve done that. I mean I continue to explore different sides of my voice but I think I have sort of managed to find my voice through my singing and my writing I guess. And that’s been really rewarding for me personally because I think I struggled for a long time to find my place in music and especially with my family all being such great musicians.”

Moody confirms that being a part of The Jennys has forced her to experiment with sounds and style she wouldn’t have tried on her own and that, with newest member Heather Masse learning to play bass and Nicky Mehta learning to play drums, there’s been some new instrumental territory explored as well. Moody almost breaks into country rock territory on The Garden ᆳtend’ (featuring some nice guitar from Kathleen Edwards’ partner Colin Cripps).

“I guess ‘Travellin’ Shoes’ is a bit of… well I don’t know if it’s a rocker,” Moody laughs. “It’s a groover, it’s as close as I get to rockin’ out. One of these days I’m going to make a rock album and just freak everyone out!”

The Garden is available through Shock.

www.rhythms.com.au AUGUST 2010 Rhythms

— profile by Martin Jones

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pour down like silver blog review – August 6, 2010

I am a sucker for well-produced, folk-poppy Americana with good female vocals. When the promotional email for Ruth Moody‘s new solo album The Garden landed, it was never going to take much to convince me to order a copy. By the time I’d listened to the samples on her website I was seriously considering breaking with habit and downloading it from AmazonMP3 rather than wait for the CD to show up. In the event I managed to find the patience and ordered it just before I took off to Prague.

People who skip to Ruth Moody-penned songs on Firecracker, this is the album you’ve been waiting for. [People who have no idea about either Ruth or the (appalling pun warning) Wailin’ Jennys should check them out]. It has a delightfully welcoming opening track, the kind that draws you in and summarises all that is to come; Moody’s usual two-pronged thematic mix of spiritual/thoughtful stuff and more personal material is neatly defined, and as a title track it serves as an intro to something of a concept album, an idea borne out by the artwork. For those of us familiar with Moody’s work in the Jennys, the album comes as a pleasant surprise; it’s great to hear her liberated from the constraints of a band setting and stretching her songcraft over a whole album of her own, helped by a raft of guests of which more later. It’s more impassioned than her Jennys material; “Cold Outside” is part-’let’s cosy up by the fire’, part-’skip that, let’s go to bed’, almost as if Moody is prepared to tread more personal territory on an album under her own name. “Travelin’ Shoes” has flat-out the best chorus I’ve heard since, well, that HoneyChild album I raved about two weeks ago, and has joined my summer driving with the windows down playlist. At times it’s pared right down to an instrument (at various times, Moody plays piano, acoustic guitar, ukelele and banjo) and a single voice, a welcome kind of sparseness if you’re used to hearing her voice in the trio. Given the space, it is a fragile, delicate voice full of vulnerability.

It always helps when an album is sonically gorgeous, and The Garden inhabits much the same warm, layered acoustic space as the Jennys albums, no doubt helped by (Jennys producer) David Travers-Smith at the helm. Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse both guest, as do most of Crooked Still and various other talents. There’s some fantastic electric guitar playing on the more radio-friendly stuff, and layers of acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin and uke on the quieter songs.

— Tom Sweeney

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Huffington Post Feature Article – August 6, 2010

A Career in Full Bloom: Ruth Moody Lovingly Tends to The Garden Michael Bialas

She has planted the seed. Now sit back and enjoy watching her grow.

A budding musician who grew up in the Wolseley neighborhood she lovingly calls “the Granola Belt of Winnipeg,” Australian-born Ruth Moody has sprouted into a beautiful performer after 13 years of touring in Canadian roots bands that have included Scruj MacDuhk and The Wailin’ Jennys.

With the U.S. release of The Garden (Red House Records) in April, her first full-length album, Moody shouldn’t have any trouble, um, branching out on her own. With a voice as lovely as springtime’s freshest daisy, Moody plans to pursue a solo career while simultaneously helping to keep the rising trio, known simply as the Jennys, in full bloom.

Moody was on the phone discussing her latest ground-breaking venture on a day when she and Jennys’ members Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse were about to receive the keys to the city in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. That’s where they returned to play for the first time since their triumphant release of 2009’s Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.

“Yeah, I’m gonna try my darnedest to do both,” said a gregarious Moody, laughing at the very idea. While the thought of breaking away — even if it’s temporary — is somewhat “scary,” Moody has the tools of the trade to pull it off. Her seductive soprano is pure joy, an irresistible force of nature that comes so effortlessly that it must be a gift from the gods. The fact that she excels on a variety of instruments — including banjo, piano and ukulele — makes the classically trained musician one of the most promising artists in a field bursting at the seams with candidates.

“I knew that at some point I would have to face the fear and do it on my own,” she said in reply to an earlier question about accepting this latest challenge. “And so, in that sense, it was something that I knew I would have to try. I feel like it’s one of those things that, after having done it, I can kinda cross something off my list.” (laughs)

Moody took her single-handed ambitions to SXSW in March, playing a showcase and party for her record label in Austin, then going to Blue Rock Studio in Wimberley, Texas. The once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity came at Blue Rock’s annual birthday bash in a setting she described as “an amazing sort of artist retreat, ranch, studio, you name it.” Lending their support were Lloyd Peterson, a fellow musician and close friend, and Eric Peltoniemi and Ellen Stanley of Red House. That label, which has the Jennys on its long list of established roots artists, is responsible for giving Moody a high-profile spot as the closing act on August 7 at Barnfest, in Red Wing, Minnesota.

The daylong festival (with online tickets still available) will offer other formidable performers, including label-mate Pieta Brown and Carrie Elkin, but it’s Moody who stands to benefit most from her chance to host a Garden Party.

She won’t be entirely on her own, though. The Pines’ Benson Ramsey, son of roots powerhouse guitarist/producer Bo Ramsey, will accompany her on a few tunes, and, of course, she’ll have her gardening tools — a banjo and guitar. Moody was even hoping to talk her father Charles, an English teacher who’s making the eight-hour drive from Winnipeg, into bringing her ukulele. The set will focus heavily on selections from The Garden, but Moody was also considering playing “Heaven When We’re Home,” a song off the Jennys’ Juno Award-winning 40 Days album that first appeared on her 2002 EP, Blue Muse.

Back then, Moody realized she wasn’t ready to go at it alone. But critical acclaim with the Jennys, numerous guest appearances on A Prairie Home Companion and a flourishing spirit of adventure have changed all that.

“You have to find strengths that you don’t need when you’re in a band,” she said. “And so I feel like sort of it’s a real growth experience in that way personally. And the things you learn because you’re learning them on your own are huge, you know? (pauses, then laughs) I haven’t actually had to really articulate this yet (laughs), so I’m just sort of thinking it through.”

The impetus for all this was the result of the Jennys leaving the road after about nine years of constant touring. “The band decided to take a year off, which was ultimately so that Nicky could start a family,” Moody said of Mehta, with whom she shares managing duties of the group they co-founded in 2002.

“It’s really great because it’s allowed us to explore different things and come back to the band with new scope and new ideas and new energy. … It did recharge me in a huge way because I got to tend to some of these songs that were waiting for a home. And I got to take the reins and just do whatever I wanted. And part of being in a collaboration is, of course, the upside is you get to combine strengths and we’ve known each other and draw on each other, but at the same time everyone has to be OK with every decision. So everything … you’re in a mind-set where you’re compromising … not necessarily compromising, but it’s a collective decision.

“When you’re doing it on your own, it’s kind of freeing because you don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks. And you can make crazy decisions if you want or you can try new things. It was really great that way.”

While Mehta gave birth to twin boys in July 2009 and Masse — the group’s relative newcomer — got married, Moody kept her private life…. mostly to herself.

Even during this conversation, when she was personable, generous and charming, Moody remained resolute in not giving up many personal details. This exchange was pleasant, if not entirely revealing, punctuated with her lilting laugh:

So Heather just got married?

“She recently got married, yeah.”

What about yourself?

“Well, I’m not married.”

Are you involved with anybody?

“I am in a committed relationship, yes.”

And how’s that going?

“It’s going well.”

Told that there are few, if any, juicy tidbits floating around about her present-day situation, Moody laughed again, then offered:

“I know, it’s funny. People always remark on the fact that I’m mysterious about it. And Nicky and Heather both talk about their marriage and their respective situations, babies and marriage, on stage. And so, fans often come up to me after and say, ‘You didn’t tell us your story.’ (laughs) But, I mean, it’s something I like to keep pretty private.”

Moody is more than willing to talk about her album, though. And why not? Produced by previous Jennys collaborator David Travers-Smith, it’s an exceptional work of art. Moody wrote a bumper crop of 11 of the 12 pastoral pieces, also sharing credit on the wondrous “We Can Only Listen” with Matt Peters, the song’s duet partner, and Derek Norton.

The star-studded lineup includes guest appearances by Canadian electric guitarists Luke Doucet, Colin Cripps, Joey Wright and Kevin Breit. And there’s one-off assists from her older brother Richard (The Bills), Oh Susanna and that superlative slice of Americana pie known as Crooked Still. Led by Moody’s pal, Aoife O’Donovan, Crooked Still released Some Strange Country about a month after The Garden, and both deserve to be mentioned among the best of the folk/roots genre in 2010. But O’Donovan has lent more than her voice to help out Moody.

Needing a Jennys replacement after Annabelle Chvostek left the group in 2007, Moody consulted O’Donovan. She recommended Maase, her New England friend. “I called her because she’s a great singer and I knew she would know what we needed and right away,” Moody said. “She was like, ‘Yep, I got the perfect person.’ And it was just amazing. It just worked out so well.”

So, through the wonders of technology, Crooked Still performed on Moody’s impressive title cut, with O’Donovan recording her part in Brooklyn, New York, while the rest of the band was in Vermont. Inspired by Voltaire’s Candide, with the intention of “trying to make something beautiful out of life, no matter what our situation is,” it’s a dazzling way to kick off its album’s namesake.

While Moody admits being “such a folkie,” her hidden desires include “doing like an all-out rock show some day.” And for no real reason other than that, she let the closest thing here to a three-pronged attack of Doucet, Cripps and Wright punch up “We Could Pretend.” Doucet, Sarah McLachlan’s touring guitarist who at age 10 performed with an 8-year-old Moody in the Wolseley Children’s Choir run by her mother Marcelline, also lends his credible skills (and pedal steel) to a refreshing “Travellin’ Shoes.”

Putting the finishing touches on The Garden are some familiar voices. “Closer Now” joyously finds the exquisite three-part harmonies of Moody, Mehta and Masse in unison again. With Winnipeg’s Jeremy Penner (one of Moody’s Scruj MacDuhk bandmates) on violin and mandolin, they’ll be back on the road next week, touring into 2011 to promote their yet-unnamed fall release.

It’s perfectly understandable why Moody isn’t ready to give up this transcendent triple threat of 3M magic.

“Singing in three-part harmony is one of my favorite things,” Moody said. “I grew up singing with my sisters (older sibling Jane is a cellist; the youngest, Rachel, is a violinist with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, but is currently playing in Auckland, New Zealand) and it just feels right to me. I’ll probably always seek that out in some capacity. And I am very proud of… you know, Nicky and I have built this band from the beginning (when Cara Luft, was the third original member) and I am very proud of what we’ve done. As long as the Jennys keep going, I will (laughs) be in it.”

With a full-length album finally sown on her own, one inevitable question awaits:

So, Ruth, how does your garden grow?

“Well, this is the irony. I’ve never had a garden,” she admitted. “I’ve been a touring musician for 13 years. I would die to have a garden. But it hasn’t been possible yet. I’ll have to try and keep writing songs and one of these days, hopefully I can actually… do it literally.”

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Aptly named The Garden, Ruth Moody’s solo debut is as inviting as a green and shady spot during a heat wave. With Moody’s cool, breezy vocals backed by crisp licks of banjo and guitar, the album is a sophisticated effort that has instant appeal, as well as subtle layers that reward repeated listening. A founding member of Winnipeg, MB’s Wailin’ Jennys, Moody brings in a multitude of talented musicians to assist on her first solo effort, including members of American neo-bluegrass band Crooked Still and Matt Peters of the Waking Eyes. Fellow Jennys Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse sing their familiar harmonies on “Closer Now,” and Luke Doucet and Oh Susanna blend their voices with hers on the upbeat, radio-worthy “Travellin’ Shoes.” Stunning harmonies aside, Moody’s nuanced vocals bring depth throughout to lyrics that alternate between folksy and fanciful. All told, a perfect collection of polished, graceful Americana. (Red House)

exclaim.ca – Ruth Moody The Garden… – July, 2010

Aptly named The Garden, Ruth Moody’s solo debut is as inviting as a green and shady spot during a heat wave. With Moody’s cool, breezy vocals backed by crisp licks of banjo and guitar, the album is a sophisticated effort that has instant appeal, as well as subtle layers that reward repeated listening. A founding member of Winnipeg, MB’s Wailin’ Jennys, Moody brings in a multitude of talented musicians to assist on her first solo effort, including members of American neo-bluegrass band Crooked Still and Matt Peters of the Waking Eyes. Fellow Jennys Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse sing their familiar harmonies on “Closer Now,” and Luke Doucet and Oh Susanna blend their voices with hers on the upbeat, radio-worthy “Travellin’ Shoes.” Stunning harmonies aside, Moody’s nuanced vocals bring depth throughout to lyrics that alternate between folksy and fanciful. All told, a perfect collection of polished, graceful Americana. (Red House)

— Rachel Sanders

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TheRecord.com – Superior songwriters… – July 22, 2010

Ruth Moody – The Garden (Red House)

Like a flower that grows from seed to blossom, The Garden blooms in acoustic splendour.

The album is the debut solo release from Ruth Moody, a member of the ever-popular Wailin’ Jennys, and it’s an ear-tingling delight.

Moody wrote or co-wrote all 12 tracks and she plays acoustic guitar, banjo, piano, ukulele and accordion, which are lovely vehicles to carry her soft, sweet, plaintive vocals. Those vocals receive sensitive treatment from producer David Travers-Smith. However, she gets a helping hand from a gifted gathering of guest artists including Elora’s Kevin Breit, Colin Cripps, Luke Doucet, Joey Wright, Greg Liszt and Oh Susanna, among others.

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Winnipeg Free Press – Folk by Morley Walker – July Review

RUTH MOODY – THE GARDEN (RED HOUSE)

This first full-length solo album from one of the two original members of Winnipeg’s Wailin’ Jennys folk trio is as lovely as you might imagine.

The seemingly natural gift for melody Moody has demonstrated with the Jennys over the years has not deserted her here, but what is surprising is how she has expanded her range both as a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist

Within You Without You has the languorous quality of a standard that the late American chanteuse Eva Cassidy might have recorded. And Tell Me, marked by a loping bass line and quiet electric-guitar licks, calls to mind Nora Jones at her most seductive. There are several country-inflected ballads that Moody specializes in, most notably the opening title track and the beautiful closer with its punning title, Closer Now.

If would have been nice if she could have included a couple of livelier numbers, if only for variation, but this is minor complaint. Overall, The Garden offers a bountiful harvest indeed. ★★★★½

— Morley Walker

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 17, 2010 C4

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Folk Roots/Folk Branches with Mike Regenstreif – July Review

Ruth Moody grew up in a Winnipeg-based family that studied and played classical music. Drawn to folk music, she first made her mark on the folk scene as the lead singer of a Celtic-oriented band called Scruj MacDuhk.

Shortly after Scruj MacDuhk broke up, Ruth got together with Cara Luft and Nicky Mehta and formed the sublimely harmonious Wailin’ Jennys which, despite Cara’s early departure – she was replaced by Annabelle Chvostek who was later replaced by Heather Masse — has become and remained one of the most popular folk groups of the past decade.

The Garden, a kind of chamber-folk album that reflect Ruth’s interests in folk and roots-oriented pop music as well as her classically-influenced background, is her first full-length solo release and it’s a set of fine compositions made riveting by her intimate arrangements – she variously plays guitar, banjo, piano, ukulele and accordion, and surrounds herself with some excellent musicians and harmony singers – and lovely soprano voice.

While I quite enjoy the entire CD, my favourite songs include “The Garden,” which opens like a solo Appalachian folksong with Ruth singing to her banjo but builds into a gorgeous full stringband arrangement featuring the members of Crooked Still, including Aoife O’Donovan on harmony vocals; “Never Said Goodbye,” a lovely, lonely, piano-and-strings ballad that seems so reminiscent of my late friend Kate McGarrigle; and “Closer Now,” which reminds me of Ruth’s best work with the Wailin’ Jennys (and which features gorgeous harmonies from Jenny-mates Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse).

–Mike Regenstreif

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Music Austrailia Guide – July Review

Ruth Moody in Review

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July issue of ‘Rhythms’ – Australia’s leading roots music magazine

Ruth Moody THE GARDEN SHOCK A member of The Wailin’ Jennys – you know, the Australian one! – Ruth Moody has managed to hold onto enough of her own compositions to produce a debut solo album. And here it is. And if you imagine The Garden a bit like The Wailin’ Jennys with Moody taking all the lead vocals, you’re not far off the mark. Indeed the Jennys’ Heather Masse and Nicky Mehta both contribute some vocals to album, alongside a who’s who of alternative American folk and country including: Oh Susanna; Crooked Still; Luke Doucet; Kathleen Edwards’ partner Colin Cripps; Matt Peters, etc, etc. Though produced and overseen by Jennys producer David Travers-Smith (he’s credited with recording, mixing and mastering!), it looks like the material was recorded at a variety of locations and maybe that is reflected in the gentle shifts in shades throughout the songs. The changes are subtle. The Garden is an album that invites intimacy, Moody’s breezy voice, sometimes requiring nothing but a ukulele as backing to deliver its impact. There may be a surprising cast of guest contributors, but this is undeniably Moody’s album. She is credited with playing guitar, piano, banjo, ukulele, and accordion, and no matter how gorgeous the instrumentation, it’s that voice that steals the scene every time.

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FAME (Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange)!

Want to know what frustration is? Frustration is listening to people whine all the time about the sorry state of today’s music when I hear more great music in a week than I did in a month when the industry was, uh, “healthy.” Frustration is hearing music deserving exposure consigned to the dust bins by a media so enthralled with itself that it ignores what is right before their ears. Frustration is lowering myself to begging people to listen to more than worthy music and find that I am speaking to the deaf.

Know what the good thing about frustration is? Every time an album comes along that is so good that it freaks me out, I forget all that. It happens more than you think, my friends, and this month’s treasure comes by way of Red House Records and one Ruth Moody. Moody is one-third of The Wailin’ Jennys and, yes, I have heard of them but somehow missed them in my musical journeys. I will correct that omission when I am done with this, guaranteed.

First, though, let me tell you what I know about Ruth Moody. She has a captivating voice and knows how to use it. She can reach down inside a person and make them appreciate the beauty of a song or even a simple turn of phrase. She can paint musical pictures worthy of a museum or an art gallery. She can bring you down when you’re high and make you high when you’re down and without you even realizing it. She does all that and more on her latest release, The Garden.

Speaking of The Garden, I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful introduction to, well, The Garden. Floating and exquisitely beautiful, the melody carries the song on a slightly upbeat but soft journey, lightly plucked banjo and violin weaving just enough of a country fabric to put it on a higher plane. It is hardly an anomaly. Cold Outside follows and steps into territory inhabited by too few, the land of ethereal beauty, the melody and presentation right up there with groups like Hem and Seafare (once known as Ameliajay). She rocks a little on Travellin’ Shoes, but it’s a light bit of country-rockin’ and all I can think is, this is what Nashville is missing. The banjo again leads off We Can Only Listen and I know people think this is Americana but I have to say that when the music is this good, Americana doesn’t begin to cover the bases. Moody steps further into the ether with the haunting Within Without You which is soft, emotionally charged folk, and then turns to the piano for a more standard singer/songwriter offering with Never Said Goodbye. A step back toward folk and country, Winter Waltz is wind across a snow-covered prairie and The Nest, well, that simple banjo does it again and so does the voice. They even throw in some outstanding fiddle for good measure. We Could Pretend could be a Hem tune except it isn’t (Hem fans will know what I mean), and it’s so sweet it hurts. Moody backsteps to the fifties and early sixties next with deft touch on Tell Me, it having that slow dancing hit quality every high school kid of that era understands. Valentine is an emotional tone poem and a very impressive one, and Moody finishes the album off with a slow waltz, “Closer Now,” a song so flowing and beautiful that if you put religious lyrics to it, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver would record it in a minute. Maybe with the lyrics as they are, come to think of it.

That is one long paragraph which basically says that The Garden is an album for people who love music so good that it transcends the vast, vast majority of what is out there. This is way better than good. It is bordering on amazing. I know I sound like a sap, but I can’t help it. It’s just that good. Do yourself a favor. Listen for yourself. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

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Fish Records – Review

One-third of the excellent roots/folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth Moody now steps out on her own with The Garden, a beautiful and intimate collection of twelve modern acoustic Americana songs.

While her voice is well known to many from the trio, this album is a real showcase for her as a multi-instrumentalist as she provides acoustic guitar, piano, banjo, ukulele and accordion throughout the album. But this is by no means a one-woman show as she calls upon the talents of some of the finest North American artists around including the whole of Crooked Still, Luke Doucet, Christian Dugas (The Duhks) and many more. This quality throughout has given this album a real touch of magic as in addition to her fantastic vocals there are spectacular performances at every turn.

As one part of a trio, she stands out as a real talent, but as a solo artist this is an exceptional album by any standards and the quality of performances and arrangements are superb throughout. Not to be missed.

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June issue of Maverick UK

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Duluth News Tribune.com: Moody’s first solo album something to remember

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: www.ruthmoody.com 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)

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All music guide review – May 2010 An effort away from the Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth Moody’s solo project has her lithe and lean voice singing original songs that speak to rural folk music dialects. It is far removed from the multicultural big-city metropolitan music of where it was recorded in Toronto, closer to Appalachian mountain music, replete with acoustic stringed instruments from many special guests, and the down-home feel that comes from the soul of a country girl. These compositions from Moody reflect lost love, yearning, the cold weather months, and a sense of loneliness easily cured by companionship. While she plays banjo, piano, ukulele, acoustic guitar, and accordion, her sweet and supple voice is the focal point of these selections, with the garden of life in mind. While the title track depicts that garden as a more spiritual place, the harshness and isolation of winter seem foremost on Moody’s mind on other tracks, the temptress in her coming out during “Cold Outside” as she asks her mate to come inside. There are two duets with the great singer Heather Masse, “We Could Pretend” and the country waltz “Closer Now,” where their voices blend beautifully, and suggesting that a full-blown project should be in the works. The most universally appealing song is “Travellin’ Shoes” in a light pop/rock beat, while “Nest” is pure country, as producer David Travers-Smith evokes the passion of Moody during “Tell Me,” adding some of his trumpet playing, among many other instruments he plays on this date. In many ways this is a delightful, subtle, and restrained effort by Ruth Moody, not so much surprising as it is delicious and refreshing, recommended to her fans and those who enjoy the Jennys collective. ~ Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide 4 out of 5 stars.

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Direct Current Music – March 13, 2010 One-third of the excellent roots/folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth Moody now steps out on her own with The Garden (April 20, Red House), an extraordinary, intimate collection of twelve modern acoustic Americana songs. While Moody has contributed to the Jennys’ collective repertoire and released an EP of original material in 2002, The Garden is her full-length debut — and one that makes us ask “what took you so long?” Produced by David Travers-Smith (Jane Siberry, Ani DeFranco). the album is also the perfect bookend to fellow Wailin’ Jenny Heather Masse’s lovely Bird Song solo release from last November and helps set the stage for a new Wailin’ Jennys studio project later this year. The Garden is the album equivalent of a “house concert”, an upclose-and-personal experience that perfectly frames Moody’s gentle, ethereal voice with her own — and her superb studio guests’ — multi-instrumental backing of string instruments: music that wears it’s traditional garb loosely. There’s no doubt that Moody has a fondness for the classic fiddle and banjo bluegrass sound but, applied to her own neo-folk melodies, the overall effect is fresh, organic and invigorating, a simple, luxuriant production that never over steps. There’s not one weak track on The Garden but we’re immediately drawn to the quietly mesmerizing and sensuous “Cold Outside” with Moody’s warm, honey-and-lemon vocals, gently plucking banjo and steel guitar atmospherics drawing the listener in. “Come inside, stay awhile,” she sings, “you know you want to.” And who are we to resist? Highly recommended.

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Village records – March, 2010

Yet another solo album from one of the Wailin’ Jennys. This immensely popular group has a wealth of talented gals and Moody continues the trend of great solo music. Working with some of the best session players on the scene she wraps her beautiful voice around some new songs that inspire us to keep reaching for the repeat button. You will too.

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