Janiva Magness – LOVE IS AN ARMY


Janiva Magness
Fathead Records/Blue Elan

Music That Transcends Both the Blues and Even Soul

Although this is Janiva Magness’ 14th album I only discovered her 4 years ago and have been slowly working my way through her back catalogue ever since; so was pretty damn excited to receive two copies of her latest release……one from her American PR and the other the European one.
As usual I have to start by explaining that the Blues comes in a million shades and Janiva Magness plys her trade in the cooler more Soulful end of the spectrum.
The opening track Back To Blue is a perfect example of why Janiva was a Grammy nominee in 2016, her distinctive velvety voice soars on an absolute heartbreaker that is perfect for people of a certain age who remember the halcyon days of Dusty Springfield and Aretha in their glory years.
Things get a little more spikier on the next track Hammer; with a punchy drumbeat fighting with Charlie Musselwhite on a sparkling harmonica as Janiva ‘shakes her thang’ as the band get in a groove well worthy of the famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
As is the way when you have a reputation like Ms Magness a couple of guest stars make appearances on a couple of tracks; with the legendary Rusty Young supplying some sublime pedal-steel during On And On which is a bit of a departure for the Blues Diva; but not too far left of centre that it doesn’t fit in.
Delbert McClinton makes an appearance on the lonely love song What I Could Do; taking this duet into ‘timeless territory’ and just perfect for late night radio somewhere in Lonelyville.
RMHQ favourite Cedric Burnside brings his urban Roots specialities to Home; which has a choir of Angels backing the pair on a song so atmospheric you can virtually smell the flowers on the hills as Janiva gives the powerful lyrics everything she has in her armoury.
When I played this album in the car I found myself reaching for the dial to turn the volume up a couple of notches on Tell Me, What’s That Say About You and the Gospel drenched Some Kind of Love which finds the singer alone at a piano; not because they are ‘Rockers’ but because they all deserved to give me a sensory overload; that being simple background music wasn’t fair on Dave Darling’s sparkling production.
Where to go for a favourite song? Love To a Gunfight has to be a contender with its clever lyrics and story coupled with some sublime guitar from Dave Darling, but I’m going for the classy title track Love Is An Army. As everyone knows I’m a sucker for a love song; and this one oozes lurve like an oil slick; with the words and music and most importantly the way Janiva and Bryan Stephens weave their voices around each other the song transcends both the Blues and even Soul in the way only Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson managed many years ago.
A couple of months ago I got into a heavy debate about Artistes ‘recording the same album over and over again’ versus ‘Artistes constantly changing direction and challenging themselves.’ I fall into the latter camp and find myself being proud of Janiva Magness for having the courage to make an album that is distinctively a Janiva Magness album (what else could it be with ‘that voice’?) but creating individual songs that may be out of her core fans comfort zone; although I certainly think all of their preconceptions should disappear the second time they play this album.
Here’s my forecast……..Grammy Nominee in 2016……Grammy WINNER in 2018!

Released 23rd February 2018


Ill River  – TALE TO TELL

carr t brown

Ill River

Evocative and Romantic Americana From Europe’s Heartlands.

Choosing albums to review isn’t as easy as you’d imagine; as we genuinely get inundated with new music every week, so sometimes it’s a ‘big name’ that will get the site attention, others can be from acts I’ve reviewed before or perhaps it’s an album that has been recommended by a friend or another reviewer and occasionally it can just be ‘pot luck’ that something so minuscule it’s difficult to explain has caught my attention; such is the case with this album from Cary T Brown aka Ill River.
Cary got in touch following a review of Jeff Crosby’s last album and offered up his own latest release…..because a) The music was similar and b) there was a Magpie on the album artwork!
Well; lucky for him I’m a sucker for a Magpie…..and you too; because this album is well worth seeking out.
As always the opening track has to capture my attention; and the liquid guitar break that opens Smile For The Picture certainly did that; and when Cary’s warm and world weary voice entered the fray it quickly had me nodding my head and pursing my lips as a deep and poetic song unfolded before me.
‘Poetic’ as as good a way as any to describe Brown’s writing style; as his songs may not be as ‘literal’ as I normally prefer; but the way this song is constructed and others too (Janey and Little Strings too for that matter) are designed to make you think as you wallow in the language and tightly wrapped guitar fronted Alt./Indie Folk music before you.
American by birth but now based in France Brown’s ‘style’ probably owes more to a romantic vision of Americana than it would were he still to be dragging himself around the bars of his homeland; and this comes across delightfully well on On My Mind and Tie One On which are full of exquisite small town imagery and some mega-cool guitar licks too.
There’s not a bad song here; with every single one having something to capture the listener’s imagination but two are especially ‘magical’ and caught my attention every time I’ve played this record; with My Season which closes proceedings just being pipped by the spiky Alt. Country love song Lucky Guy for the title of ‘RMHQ Favourite Track’ by only the smallest of margins.
Presumably like me regular readers will never have heard of Cary T Brown or Ill River before this review; but fans of Jackson Browne, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, John Hiatt and the likes of Ray Wylie or Robert Earl Keen will love this album with all of their heart.

Released 28th February 2018

Chris Hillman – The ASYLUM YEARS (Slippin’ & Clear Sailin’)

hillman asylum

Chris Hillman
The ASYLUM YEARS (Slippin’ & Clear Sailin’)
Omnivore Recordings

An Absolute Gem From The Country Music Vaults.

If you don’t already know Chris Hillman’s back-story and place in the Rock Pantheon then perhaps you should stop reading here; but then again not, because if you think Americana Music started with Mumford & Sons or their like then this album is definitely for you.
I actually remember the Slippin’ album being in my big brother Brian’s record collection in the late 70’s which with hindsight is no surprise as he’d been a Byrds and later a Burritos fan; so there’s a logic to it; but I can’t ever remember playing it. (Too many other musical delights for me to discover between 1976 and 1980!).
So when my favourite contact in the US of A asked if I’d like a copy of this re-release of that album coupled with the follow up Clear Sailin’ it was a hearty “YES” from RMHQ.
It was spectacularly weird finally hearing opening track Step On It after 40 years; as it sounds like it has been packaged in a time capsule just waiting for the right time to be released into the wild; and that time is now…2018.
This is followed by the sublimely mellow Slippin’ Away which really is a perfect snapshot of what I remember the ‘Laurel Canyon Sound’ being like; which shouldn’t be a surprise as it features Al Perkins on pedal-steel, Steve Cropper on lead, vocals by Hillman, Tim Schmit, Herb Pedersen and “Ooooh’s” by Flo & Eddie!
With the benefit of hindsight I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to think this album could have been a template for the first two Eagles albums; especially Witching Hour (by Steve Stills) and Midnight Again which have most certainly stood the test of time.
Obviously this was the time when releasing singles wasn’t deemed ‘cool’ so ace songs like Blue Morning and the forerunner of what us kids think of as ‘Roots Music’ (Take Me In Your) Lifeboat have remained hidden treasures to me until this last 7 days; and I guess a lot of people reading this and buying the album will feel the same way as I do.
While Hillman’s words regarding the follow up Clear Sailin’ describe him ‘turning back the dial to a more traditional style of music;’ I can’t determine a clear difference; apart from the judicious use of a saxaphone on several songs.
Although the Superstar friends had been dispensed with it is still chock full of delicious harmonies from Chris Hillman and Richard Marx (yes….THAT Richard Marx) and some glorious playing from ‘the band’ (John Brennan, Merel Bregante, Skip Edwards and Larry Sims) so the differences are quite marginal; making for a lovely album.
The first song on Clear Sailin’ comes in at #11 on this disc and opens with a roaring Sax solo; Nothing Gets Through sees Hillman and Marx’s voices providing the perfect soundtrack to glorious sunny afternoon.
Quits and Hot Dusty Roads are another two songs that made me think of those early Eagles albums; but also reminded me of a lot of Rootsy albums from the last twenty years; proving the staying power of a classy song.
A big part of me expected these two albums to sound ‘dated’ and that’s patently not the case; with Hillman taking the best of his Burritos back catalogue and tweaking it with 70’s technology on Playing The Fool and Ain’t That Peculiar with both sounding perfect for FM Radio in the 70’s and 80’s but not out of place on the cool Internet shows in 2018.
With 20 songs to choose from picking a favourite is never going to be easy; but one song above all else caught my attention straight away and subsequently my I-Phone has played it 3 or 4 times on random so I’m going for Heartbreaker.
How I’ve never heard this song before defies the laws of music…..it is brittle, beautiful and as the title suggests…a heart breaker. I can think of a dozen contemporary and feted singers that would give their left arm to have a song like this on one of their records; yet it’s remained tucked away in a box for 40 years……which just shows what a canon of work Chris Hillman has produced over the last half century, when a song; and indeed couple of albums like this have been confined to the history books until now.
Yet again the good people at Omnivore must be congratulated publicly for unearthing another gem from the vaults.
Treat yourself; or better still treat a loved one to this glorious album.

Released February 2018

Single of the Day JOHN PRINE – Summer’s End


Summer’s End

It’s been a while; 13 years to be exact since John Prine released a fully fledged new album; but in April 2018 he will do such a thing and as a forerunner here’s the first single SUMMER’S END and what a taster it is!

Here’s the gist of the PRESS RELEASE –

Recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, the album includes ten new songs written by Prine along with co-writers Pat McLaughlin, Roger Cook, Dan Auerbach, Keith Sykes and Phil Spector. In addition to Prine (lead vocals and acoustic guitar) and Cobb (acoustic guitar, mellotron, claps, kazoo), the album features special guests Brandi Carlile (harmony vocals on tracks 2, 4, 8, 10), Jason Isbell (electric guitar on track 7, slide guitar and background vocals on track 9, 10) and Amanda Shires (fiddle and background vocals on track 9, background vocals on track 10).

In celebration of the album, Prine will embark on an extensive worldwide tour that will span throughout 2018, including a very special co-headline concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall with Sturgill Simpson (solo) on album release day as well as newly announced shows at L.A.’s Ace Theatre, Boston’s Wang Theatre, Austin’s Bass Hall,Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium (two nights) and UK dates including an appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival in August.

The landmark album and tour follow a noteworthy 2017, which included an “Artist of the Year” award at the Americana Music Honors & Awards and a Chicago/Midwest Regional Emmy Award for his “Chicago Voices” performance with Renée Fleming. Last year also saw the release of Prine’s debut book, John Prine Beyond Words, which includes a selection of favorites songs, photographs and stories from Prine’s beloved catalogue. More info is available here.

A two-time Grammy-winner, Prine is among the English language’s premier phrase-turners. Almost 50 years years into a remarkable career that has drawn effusive praise from Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, Roger Waters, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and others who would know, Prine is a smiling, shuffling force for good. He is a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member and a PEN New England Lyrics Award recipient whose classic debut album, simply titled John Prine, is recognized as part of the Recording Academy’s Grammy Hall of Fame and whose songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Carly Simon, Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band and many others.

Following the 2015 death of his dear friend and business partner Al Bunetta, Prine is now President and sole owner of Oh Boy Records. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife, Fiona, and enjoys spending time with their three sons, a daughter-in-law and his grandchildren.

The Tree Of Forgiveness Track List
1. “Knockin’ On Your Screen Door” (by John Prine and Pat McLaughlin)
2. “I Have Met My Love Today” ft. Brandi Carlile (by John Prine and Roger Cook)
3. “Egg & Daughter Nite, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967 (Crazy Bone)” (by John Prine and Pat McLaughlin)
4. “Summer’s End” (written by John Prine and Pat McLaughlin)
5. “Caravan of Fools” (by John Prine, Dan Auerbach, and Pat McLaughlin)
6. “The Lonesome Friends of Science” (by John Prine)
7. “No Ordinary Blue” (by John Prine and Keith Sykes)
8. “Boundless Love” (by John Prine, Dan Auerbach, and Pat McLaughlin)
9. “God Only Knows” (by John Prine and Phil Spector)
10. “When I Get to Heaven” (by John Prine)

John Prine plays the following UK Dates:
Thurs 2nd GLASGOW, Kelvingrove Bandstand (with John Moreland)
Fri 3rd BIRMINGHAM, Town Hall (with John Moreland)
Sun 5th CAMBRIDGE, Cambridge Folk Festival

Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst SOMETIMES JESSE JAMES

steven casper

Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst
Silent City Records/Hemifran

The Essence of Americana in Six Songs.

We absolutely loved Steven Casper and Cowboy Angst’s previous album SNAKES IN MY HEAD so got really excited when this new EP arrived through the letter box and …..woah….. (spoiler alert) it just might be even better!
The CD had been in the car for over a week when I slid it into the player on a cold, dark January evening as I left the depot…..and as soon as the crunchy Bo Diddleyesque riff that opens the first song Down came growling from the speakers I just knew all of my cares were about to be blown away; and I was right.
Down goes on to be the perfect ‘driving song’ with a toe-tapping beat and a chorus that had me singing my heart out along the Washington Highway* as the flickering lights cascaded through the wet windscreen.
Part Rock and Roll and part Alt. Country and 100% pure quality; what’s not to like?
Things slow down on the next song The Best Days Of Our Lives; not quite a ballad; more a sultry soft Country Rocker……think Tom Petty covering the Flying Burritos and you will get the mood; and what a mood the band create; especially those guitars and pedal-steel.
My Wrecking Ball finds Casper driving through the night in a clapped out car to see his lover (not unlike me that first night!). It’s a theme often portrayed in Rock n Roll but this has a Hill Country thread and is a lot darker than anything Bruce ever wrote; and I like it for those very reasons.
Ooohheee….They Call It Love is sultry joy from start to finish; not quite Gothic, but not too far away and the way Casper delivers his words over some sizzling guitars will make you wonder why he’s not headlining stadium tours.
The music takes a hefty left turn for the sixth and final track here; Mi Sueno, Mi Dolor; a gentle Tex-Mex instrumental that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Quentin Tarantino Spaghetti Western; or indeed a Mavericks album.
Then of course there is the RMHQ ‘Favourite Song’ accolade which goes to the sleazy yet beautiful Born To Lose Blues; a late night Southern Shuffle worthy of the Sir Douglas Quintet or (again) The Burritos.
SOMETIMES JESSE JAMES is over all too quickly at only six tracks; but there’s always the repeat button for a smart set of timeless Americana music that will still be played in thirty years time; which won’t be the case with your Ed Sheeran downloads.

Released February 9th 2018

*That’s the ‘original’ Washington in NE England btw.

Beth Nielsen Chapman – HEARTS OF GLASS

beth 2018

Beth Nielsen Chapman
BNC Records/Proper Music

Crystal Clear Songs From and For The Heart.

Aaahhh….swooon…..Beth Nielsen Chapman you say? Well; she’s a definite favourite here at RMHQ especially Mrs Magpie who had to have this disc wrenched from her hands when I needed it for review purposes.
I have no idea how she’s thought of in the USA but over here after years of touring Beth is very much an ‘International Treasure’ and has taken the place in our hearts that was warmly reserved for Nanci Griffith.
When I got around to reading the accompanying Press Release it confused me as it made HEARTS OF GLASS sound like something of a hotch-potch and possibly even ‘experimental’ when nothing could be further from the truth. Yes Beth includes some older songs that she has recorded with guitar instead of piano and a more spartan production than on previous versions; but sitting alongside the newer songs they fit in perfectly.
Opening track Come To Mine is quintessential Beth Nielsen Chapman; a delightful modern Country flavoured Folk song; that when you peel away the veneer has some very sharp observations inside the lyrics; which isn’t a surprise when you find it’s actually a co-write with Graham Gouldman and Kevin Montgomery; two of the 20th Century’s finest songwriters.
Track #2 Old Church Hymns & Old Nursery Rhymes might be familiar to older readers; but not me. Originally written for Waylon Jennings’ 1990 EAGLE album; Beth strips it back to the bone and gives her words the freedom to breathe that they truly deserve.
It’s similar tale with If My World Didn’t Have You, which she wrote for Willie Nelson and her own Child Again and Rage On Rage which are all re-visited and simplified; making them ever more beautiful than I remembered.
Fans of Beth Nielsen Chapman will already know she has had had her own problems in recent years and some of these are subtly touched upon in Epitaph For Love and of course, You’re Still My Valentine which are both as good as anything I’ve heard from Beth in recent years and Sam Ashworth’s ultra-simple production brings out two very sensitive performances.
We’ve played this album quite a bit over the last few weeks and have both fallen in love with it as a complete record; but when prompted to choose a ‘favourite song’ we nearly had an argument!
Mrs. Magpie immediately picked Child Again; as it ‘touched her’ in a way a song hasn’t for years. I can’t argue with the sentiment; and I can even picture a video for the song as I listen again; which is always a good sign….but…. Life Holds On is one of those songs that only comes along once in a lifetime, and a subject very few other songwriters could write about and make this scintillating.
As Beth herself says in the Press Release Dancer To The Drum which closes the record bookends everything quite perfectly, and yet again showcases Beth Nielsen Chapman’s prowess with the English Language in a way that will send a shiver down your spine.
HEARTS OF GLASS is the perfect title for this collection of songs; as each and every one is for and from the heart and performed in such a fragile way; thanks to Sam Ashworth’s crystal clear production that the album must surely jump into the singer’s Top 3 of all time.

Released February 9th 2018


Buffy Sainte-Marie – MEDICINE SONGS


Buffy Sainte-Marie
True North Records

Potently Raw and Emotional Native Americana.

If my maths is right MEDICINE SONGS is Buffy’s 17th album; and baring in mind the state of the world in 2018 any new music from the woman who refused to go on Sesame Street unless they let her tell the world about the history of Native Americans has to be worth investigating hasn’t it? Well; it has!
The album opens with the feisty You Got To Run (Spirit of the Wind) a full on commercial ‘wall of sound’ based around a Native American chant and backbeat; which when pealed away reveals a very angry song indeed. Boy; would I like to hear this on the radio! Do you think it’s worth holding my breath?
It’s no real surprise to find that this ‘golden ager’ and renowned Feminist and activist is righteously angry at what she sees around her; and as songwriter of some renown manages to get her feelings across in such a way on My Country Of Thy People You’re Dying and The War Racket that will not just educate you but make you want to march down a street too.
After all these years it’s more than a surprise to tell you that Ms Sainte-Marie’s voice is absolutely wonderful and has hardly changed since I first heard her in or about 72 or 73.
Not everything here is brand new; with the inclusion of new versions of the magnificent Soldier Blue, Universal Soldier, Starwalker and of course Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee which a new generation of North American schoolchildren should be forced to listen to on headphones every morning.
One of the older songs that I wasn’t aware manages to Buffy’s righteous anger gets to spill over again on an almost Hip-Hop poetic adaptation of The Priests of the Golden Bull, which is so powerful it will spin you around 359 degrees.
Baring in mind Buffy’s ‘age’…….the lady can still ROCK; as is proven on my favourite track here Carry It On. It’s definitely another ‘protest song’ but it’s also a real fists in the air and scream-along the chorus rocker that puts women (and men) a quarter of her age to shame.
I’ve been playing this album on and off  for two months now, and I’m stumped as to where to place it on my shelf…..Folk? Roots? Rock? Any of which would work; but I’m going for Americana or more pertinently NATIVE AMERICANA!
God Bless Buffy Sainte-Marie; the world still needs her and her fiery passion.

PS. The digital version of this record includes a further six songs that appear to be in a similar ilk; and should be well worth investigating.

Released 26th January 2017


Cambridge City Roots Festival 2018

Cambridge City Roots Festival 2018
Feb 22nd- March 6th 2018.

WAHAY! How exciting does this look to start 2018? The World Famous Cambridge Folk Festival now has an exciting little brother of a Festival to whet the musical appetite and it just gets better, more exciting and….dare I say it, more interesting every year.
Just some of what’s in store includes performances from BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris’s ‘Emerging Artist of the Year’ Wildwood Kin, RMHQ ‘Hero’ and BBC Radio 6 stalwart Mr. Tom Robinson and Cambridge Folk Festival summer headliner, Ward Thomas. Some of the UK’s finest folk musicians appear in the form of John McCusker, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, and Megson. Elsewhere there will be award-winning comedy from Rich Hall as he performs “Hoedown” – a withering dissection of Trump’s America which finishes as a celebration of Americana with stand-up, improvised ballads, and amazing musicianship (described as “Blissfully funny” by The Guardian) – as well as what promises to be a fascinating live interview, with charismatic Canvey Island rocker Wilko Johnson. Further headliners also include Gambian multi-instrumentalist Sona Jobarteh with Cameroonian blues and jazz artist Muntu Valdo.

RMHQ says “What’s not to like?”

Cambridge CityRootsline-upjpeg


mary gauthier xc

Mary Gauthier
Proper Records/Thirty Tigers

Dangerous, Timeless and Poetically Beautiful Songs of Struggling After War.

Only a couple of months ago I was chatting to a friend and we got to pondering about Mary Gauthier and wondered when she would be releasing a new album; and a week later what should pop through the RMHQ letterbox but this…..the quaintly titled RIFLES & ROSAY BEADS.
As I took the disc from the packaging I raised my eyebrows on seeing the enigmatic artwork on the cover; and ‘that’ title. Knowing Mary’s work of old and coupled to the album cover I immediately knew this wasn’t going to contain many laughs……and nor would it be intended too.
The opening track Soldiering On is breathtaking the first time you hear it. As with the other ten songs here this is a co-write with someone from a non-profit programme called Songwriting With Soldiers; and the rawness of the lyrics and the powerfully dark production tells a story that a simple singer-songwriter could never begin to articulate.
Track #3 The War After The War treads similar territory to Slaid Cleaves recent album but here the tale of a proud Soldier returning to his home fractured on the inside will send a shiver down your spine and make you feel very proud at the way this young person (their sex isn’t made clear; and nor should it matter) keeps ‘fighting’ to get back to some sort of normality.
Okay; Mary Gauthier has had a hand in editing and no doubt even writing all of these songs; but when you listen intently you hear an eloquence that far surpasses many of the albums I receive on a weekly basis; ‘write about what you know’ springs to mind and when I listen to the starkly delicate It’s Her Love and Brothers you wouldn’t wish ‘what they saw and know’ on your worst enemy; but it makes for two amazing songs that should be heard by every politician in the world on a daily basis.
The poetic title track RIFLES & ROSARY BEADS encompasses the full scale irony that these young people have encountered on a daily basis from the day they chose to ‘sign-up’ through to now when all they have is memories ……and memories that they can’t shake off no matter how hard they or the Doctors try.
Finding a ‘favourite song’ isn’t easy at all; as every single song here is here on merit and tells a story that simply must be heard; and no single story is more worthy than any other but I will point you towards two that brought tears to my eyes more than once over the last couple of weeks.
Bullet Holes in The Sky is a timeless story that will resonate with Vietnam and Korean War veterans as much as it will with the young men and women who are in and leaving the military in 2018. Bittersweet hardly describes the mixed feelings of pride and horror at what these people have seen and done ‘for the greater good.’
The other…..phew……Iraq……certainly isn’t what the ‘great and the good want you to hear’ when they touch their hearts while looking wistfully at the Flag. Mary takes on the role and words of a young woman whose ‘enemy wasn’t Iraq’ but her fellow military mechanics who sexually harass her and eventually take her to the brink. Sadly this is a story that will resonate with women of all persuasions and professions; but is all too common in the various military institutions around the world.
While as far from Gung-Ho as you can get; Stronger Together which closes this remarkable album manages to be a song of hope and love written from the perspective of the soldiers, sailors and airmen’s families who have to battle on alongside and sometimes despite the people they love.
Every song here tells a real story; and none of them come from the John Wayne School of heroics; these are real people recounting real experiences and real memories with the guidance of one of America’s premier songwriters and the results are truly staggering and beautiful in equal measure.
I doubt you will ever hear any of these songs on public radio or even read a review of the album in National magazines or newspapers; such is the strong sentiment in each individual work; but trust me……..this is an album every single person in Western Civilisation should hear at least once…..then send a copy to your politicians who keep War Mongering then sitting behind their big oak desks and counting their profits while the combatants come home and Fight The War After The War.

Released January 26th 2018

The Wailin’ Jennys – FIFTEEN

wailin jennys 01

The Wailin’ Jennys
True North Records/Redhouse Records

Simple Folk Music At It’s Most Complex and Most Beautiful.

Where o’ where does the time go? It doesn’t seem five minutes since Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse aka The Wailin’ Jennys were never away from the UK; playing to ever increasing audiences that were awe struck at their combined wonderfulness.
Yet it’s now six years and assorted babies since their last album BRIGHT MORNING STAR….six years!
Even now the trio haven’t really got the time to devote to writing a whole new album so when the opportunity to gather together to record ‘something’ arose they put their heads together and came up with these marvelous nine songs; that they all loved in equal measure.
Perhaps an odd choice to open the record with; their haunting acapella treatment of the Old Churchyard is simply breathtaking; and sets the tone perfectly for what is to follow.
This is followed by a delicious old folk song called Wildflowers which captures the Wailin’ Jennys at their absolute best.
‘An old Folk Song?’
No actually; it’s a revisiting of the classic Tom Petty song actually, but not that you would know it from this stripped back raw and emotional rendition that finds their voices harmonising and soaring in the most Angelic fashion.
As usual in these circumstances there will be readers who tsk at my ignorance at finding that I’d never heard Hank William’s Weary Blues From Waitin’; but after hearing the Jenny’s almost Spiritual version; I’m not sure I even want to hear the original!
It’s fair to say that Nicky, Ruth and Heather have shown great taste when selecting these songs with Classics like Boulder to Birmingham and Dolly Parton’s Light of a Clear Blue Morning rubbing shoulders with Warren Zevon’s starkly beautiful Keep Me In Your Heart and a personal favourite from Patty Griffin…..Not Alone.
Two songs tie for the accolade of ‘favourite track’ the stunningly beautiful Jane Siberry song The Valley; which sends a shiver down my spine every time I hear it and….. and this is the oddest selection here…..but one that made my jaw drop the first time I heard it.
Simon & Garfunkel* both solo and together have been a bedrock of my musical education since the early 1970’s; so hearing The Wailin’ Jennys deconstruct Paul Simon’s Love Me Like a Rock has genuinely mesmerised me for a whole week now and I’m pretty damn sure it will continue to do so for years to come.
That’s the intrinsic beauty of this album; each disparate song is famous in it’s own rite and in normal settings wouldn’t and shouldn’t fit together, but due to the trio’s very own magical production values and arrangements they become very much Wailin’ Jennys songs; therefore making the album sounds intrinsically perfect from start to finish.

Released USA & Canada October 27th 2017

Released UK January 5th 2018

*Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel was the very first record I ever heard using the stereo format!