My friend Julie first introduced me to The Wailin’ Jennys, and I’m really grateful to her for that. The Jennys are from Winnipeg, and have influences from Bluegrass, Country, and Traditional Scots-Irish tunes. In a lot of ways, perhaps, it’s both apt and misleading to say that the Jennys are a sort of countrified Indigo Girls. But I think that the emphasis on vocal harmonies, and attention to craft, make it a moderately-successful analogy. In any case, their sound features big, goosebump-inducing harmonies, and their performances (as you can see below) are both commanding and gentle. Not the usual combination, to be sure, and one that is well worth embracing…
The Jennys are, in fact, Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody, and Heather Masse. All three sing, and play a range of instruments from banjo to bodhran. What is perhaps so exciting about their music is that they make all of their tunes – traditional, modern, and original – blend seamlessly in a captivating, warm embrace of their listeners. The music is both welcoming and comforting, like all such moments of listening and performing in small rooms, or around flickering fires. There is a primalness in their harmonies that draws us back to a time when the sound of a voice ringing out clearly was all there was to chase away the silence. Indeed, they draw us back there, and we are grateful to remain for as long as the music will.
So, why not have a listen? I’ve put a couple of mp3s below, courtesy of Slowcoustic, and another from their bandcamp page. As always, you can find them on myspace, or visit the great collection of their songs over at CBC Radio. And just to round things out, you can find a couple of videos below. I hope you’ll enjoy!
Here’s “Deeper Well” from their Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.
And here’s “Long Time Traveller” from their Firecracker.
Here’s “Calling All Angels:”
Here’s a live performance of “Glory Bound:”
And hey, what’s a Canadian band without a Neil Young cover? Here’s “Old Man: