Ruth Moody in Review

Interview – Spiral Earth

Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013. by Dave Kushar

Fresh from touring with Mark Knopfler, Ruth Moody, a founding and current member of The Wailin’ Jennys, releases These Wilder Things, the follow-up to the Garden. Featuring guest appearances by Mark Knopfler, Jerry Douglas, Aoife O’Donovan, Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker, Kevin Breit and Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse of The Wailin’ Jennys it was produced and engineered by David Travers-Smith. Here Ruth discusses the new release and touring.

Congratulations! ‘These Wilder Things’ is a wonderful addition to your already amazing body of work. How does it feel now it’s out there? It feels great! I poured a lot of myself into it. It always feels good to work hard on something and then let it go. And of course there is nothing quite like sharing music with others. It’s the start of a conversation.

Did you have a particular theme for ‘These Wilder Things’?
Not exactly, or not intentionally. It is, I suppose, a little wilder than The Garden. It was created during a time of personal growth and change and I think you can hear that in the music – there is some darkness to it but also a lot of light and hope. For me the line I borrowed for the title track from John O’Donohue, ‘I will waste my heart on fear no more’, is very key to the record for me, thematically.

Did you imagine how it would turn out and does the finished article match your thoughts?
I don’t think you can ever really predict how something like this will turn out, and that’s part of the appeal, part of the drive to do it. It’s more that you are following some kind of impulse, or instinct, to understand better, to create something that will somehow reflect and pay respect to this amazing human experience. In the end, you look at it and say – ‘ok, so that’s what it was that I needed to get out’. It’s not that you don’t go into it with some goals, but in the end, it is its own unique thing that has a spirit and life all of its own. At least that’s how it is for me. I think also that as result of working with other musicians and a producer you cannot possibly anticipate or control what each person is going to bring to the table, and you wouldn’t want to, so it ends up being a unique collaboration of all these wonderful players and ideas and a moment in time.
How was your connection with Mark Knopfler established? And how were the gigs opening for him?
Mark got in touch last year and asked me to sing on his record, Privateering. I was in the UK touring with the Transatlantic Sessions at the time, so I took an overnight train from Glasgow and sang on a few songs. It was of course a huge honour – I have so much respect for him as a writer and musician, and now that I know him, as a person. We kept in touch and I asked him if he would play on ‘These Wilder Things’ and he said yes. He ended up asking me to come and open these European shows. It’s been such a thrill to be a part of the tour. I’m just trying to really enjoy every moment!
If you could have written one of his songs which would it have been?
I don’t know that I would want to have written anyone else’s song – it feels a bit counterintuitive to think that way. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them in the same way! I am a huge fan of Mark’s writing though.
What was the first song you ever wrote?
I can’t actually recall, there are a few early songs that I still sort of remember, but I don’t know which was the first. I don’t perform them and maybe that’s for the best… I recorded some very early songs on an EP called Blue Muse, about 12 years ago.
You feature a cover of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ on the album. Were there other covers in the running?
We recorded a few covers for fun but we only wanted to put one on the album. The others might surface at some point so I won’t spoil it for now.
You have worked with David Travers-Smith on numerous projects. What is it David brings to the table?
An incredible ear and amazing instincts – He is a very special and sensitive soul and he is able to feel what a song needs and bring it to life without putting too much of a particular stamp on it. It’s more about being true to the song and the emotion of it, which is very important to me. He is also a very talented engineer and everything he records sounds incredible.
If the phone rings tomorrow and you are invited to join another artist’s tour who would you want it to be?
Wow…that’s a hard one… Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen…
What’s coming up?
Touring and more touring. After this little swing through the UK we have a pretty busy summer and fall. The Jennys are also back on the road part time as of this month so it’s pretty full-on for me. But I love it, I wouldn’t change a thing.