A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tunesday revived: The Wailin' Jennys' Bright Morning Stars

A while back, I had a little feature here called Tunesday, in which I highlighted an artist or album of which I had become enamored. And of course, I got horribly distracted and dropped it. But I think it might be fun to reopen a conversation about music right now as we are all in the doldrums of winter. I hope some of you out there feel like I do. So here is Tunesday 16, revived, hopefully not like Young Frankenstein.

The Wailin' Jennys, Bright Morning Stars

The Wailin' Jennys are an amazing trio of musicians, currently including Ruth Moody (soprano), Nicky Mehta (mezzo-soprano), and Heather Masse (alto). They sing in amazing tight harmonies as well as play fiddle, ukulele, guitar, bodhran, accordion, upright bass, and banjo, and probably other instruments of which I am unaware so far because I get so distracted by their beautiful music. Their sound fits no single category. Is it roots music? Folk? Alt-country? World music? All of these and more.

One of my current favorites of their is a cover of Jane Siberry's "Calling All Angels" that they released as a single a couple of years ago. But I was waiting avidly for the release of their third studio album, which came out on February 8 of this year. And I must say, this was worth the wait.

This third album, Bright Morning Stars, brings some of the great harmonies and inventive instrumentation that fans of the Jennys have come to expect. Musically and lyrically, the Wailin' Jennys respect the roots that ground their music while still having many surprises in store both lyrically and melodically.

"Away But Never Gone" uses the beauty of nature to remind us that nothing leaves us forever and became a special song to me as I went through the aftershocks of the anniversary of my Dad's passing at the end of January, and "You Are Here" encourages to take charge of our destinies and live life to the fullest. "Storm Comin'" is a bluesy throwback, a gospel-tinged fist-shaking anthem good for helping you get through an annoying day at work or at home. "The Last Goodbye" is an upbeat shot in the arm to a loved one whose heart fails them for fear of being hurt. "Cherry Blossom Love" sounds like it is straight out of the Andrews Sisters' work, which will make sense for those of you who are boomers like me and listened to your parents' 78s on the stereo.

All of the rest fo the songs are wonderful, and I don't just say that. I have a amajor pet peeve about modern albums having one or two good songs and the rest is absolute rubbish. This is definitely not one of those albums. These ladies create music that speaks to my depths. I hope that it does to you as well.

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