THE WAILIN’ JENNYS – FIFTEEN

Photo by Morten Fog

One of today’s most respected folk groups, The Wailin’ Jennys are releasing their first new recording in six years, Fifteen. This long-awaited follow-up to Bright Morning Stars finds the trio bringing their passion and stellar musicianship to a carefully curated collection of some of their favourite songs, including tracks by Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. For members Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse, Fifteen celebrates a 15-year musical partnership that has created three award-winning, Billboard-charting studio albums and one magical live recording and brought them a loyal worldwide fanbase.

Steeped in the artistry and elegance that has defined their career, Fifteen presents The Wailin’ Jennys at their very best. Opening with their stark yet exquisite rendering of ‘Old Churchyard’, sung a cappella over a single droning viola tone, the album then shifts to a gorgeous full-band acoustic version of Tom Petty’s ‘Wildflowers’. Other highlights include their moving interpretation of Emmylou Harris’ ‘Boulder to Birmingham’, their update of Paul Simon’s ‘Loves Me Like a Rock’ (from a women’s point of view) and songs by Jane Siberry, Warren Zevon and Patty Griffin. They also do an achingly beautiful a cappella version of Dolly Parton’s ‘Light of a Clear Blue Morning’ that resonates as a call to hope in these troubled political times.

All three of the Jennys now have young children and – coupled with living in two countries and different sides of the North American continent – making the time to record has been a challenge.

“We are all mothers now, living in different cities, so we knew we couldn’t spend a month in the studio the way we used to”, Moody says. “Nicky and Heather could only be away from their boys for a week, which gave us five days! So we decided to do something that was true to our live show. Arranging other people’s songs has been something we’ve enjoyed doing since the beginning, so we thought that a covers album would be fun to do, especially given the time restraints. Even so, it was a little nuts. We were arranging harmonies on the fly… my son was just shy of three months old and I was feeding him every couple of hours… Nicky had a bad cold which made things tricky for her. But we just went with it, and trusted that it would all work out; maybe that’s the thing we’ve gotten better at as mothers.”

Produced by The Wailin’ Jennys and engineered by Joby Baker, the album also features additional musicians Richard Moody (Ruth’s brother), Sam Howard, Adrian Dolan and Adam Dobres.

NPR wrote of their last Newport Folk Fest appearance, “The Wailin’ Jennys are more than just impeccable bluegrass harmonizers; they’re also terrific bandleaders who give their traditional roots music a sense of real reverence.” It’s this respect for their craft, as well as the Wailin’ Jennys heartfelt, impeccable vocal performances, that has cemented the trio’s reputation in folk and roots music circles.

Starting as a happy accident of solo singer-songwriters getting together for a one-time-only performance at a tiny guitar shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, The Wailin’ Jennys have earned their place as one of today’s most beloved international folk groups. Founding members Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta, along with New York-based Heather Masse, continue to create some of the most exciting and exquisite music on the folk-roots scene, stepping up their musical game with each critically-lauded recording and thrilling audiences with their renowned live performances.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the THE WAILIN’ JENNYS – FIFTEEN link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

The Wailin’ Jennys – Fifteen – Track by Track

Some of the covers are songs we’ve had arranged for a while but haven’t had the chance to record. The others were brought to the mix for this record. They are all songs that are close to our heart for one reason or another or that feel appropriate for the times.

Old Churchyard – This is an English traditional song, evocative and otherworldly, as traditional music often is. Waterson-Carthy did a version that is very spirited, almost like a march. We took a more gentle approach.

Wildflowers – We’ve been singing this Tom Petty song for a few years and a lot of fans have asked us to record it, so we finally did. It’s just a great song, and it feels really good to sing it.

The Valley – We all think this is the most beautiful song. It is deep and compassionate…a spiritual anthem, with a touch of Jane Siberry eccentricity. Nicky brought this one to the band and suggested we trade off lead vocals. The boys dug deep in their performance. Richy added some gorgeous string parts. It was one of those things that just came together magically.

Light of a Clear Blue Morning – We were asked to arrange this song for an independent Canadian film called ‘The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom’, which featured Dolly’s music and received her stamp of approval. What can we say – we love Dolly, and this is a mammoth of a song, so we were honoured to do so.

Loves Me Like a Rock – Heather thought this would be fun to do with the Jennys, and she was right. We tend to gravitate towards the serious, so it’s good for us to lighten up once and a while. It’s a feel-good Paul Simon classic that feels ever appropriate.

Boulder to Birmingham – I have loved this song for as long as I’ve loved songs – it’s such a poignant and heartbreaking tribute to a lost love. The fact that Emmylou wrote it after Gram Parson’s death makes it all the more meaningful. I’ve always wanted to try it with the Jennys but the melody really weaves around, which can be challenging for creating harmonies. I love what we ended up with. The high part in particular ventures way out of Nicky’s normal range, but she nailed it. This was another one that felt magical when it was going down – we performed it a few times, but in the end we chose the first take.

Not Alone – Penned by the magnificent Patty Griffin and suggested by Heather, Not Alone is a tragic rendering of a life lost suddenly and a loved one left behind. Despite the gravity of the tale, it carries with it a message of deep hope and love. The haunting strains of Richard’s viola and Adam’s electric guitar make this song cut straight to the bone.

Keep Me in Your Heart – Warren Zevon wrote this song at the end of his life after battling cancer. It’s a beautiful sentiment – a piece of himself left for his family and friends, and the rest of us! Richy, Sam and Adam came up with a beautiful string arrangement in the studio and we think it really made the song come to life.

Weary Blues From Waitin’ – This Hank Williams song was one of the first songs the three of us sang together, the night we met Heather at The World Cafe in Philadelphia. We wanted to see how our voices blended, so we ducked into a public bathroom, locked the door, and sang a few songs. I’m pretty sure we asked her to join the band right then and there.

Artist web links:

www.thewailinjennys.com
www.facebook.com/thewailinjennys

PATTY GRIFFIN’S UNRELEASED, SOUGHT-AFTER ALBUM, ‘SILVER BELL,’ FINALLY READY

Press Shot 2Recorded in 2000, Griffin’s “Lost” ‘Silver Bell’ Album Features “Top Of The World” and “Truth #2,” Later Covered by Dixie Chicks

Recorded at Daniel Lanois’ Kingsway Studio; Newly Mixed by Glyn Johns

“There’s a whole lot of singing/That’s never gonna be heard/Disappearing every day/Without so much as a word,” sings Patty Griffin in “Top Of The World,” a song from her unreleased album, Silver Bell, recorded in 2000 and intended to be the follow-up to her hard-rocking 1998 sophomore release, Flaming Red.  The album was not released by A&M Records, a victim of the label’s turn-of-the-century ownership change, and until now, it has remained a missing piece from Griffin’s acclaimed catalogue.  Newly mixed by legendary producer Glyn Johns, Silver Bell will be released for the first time on October 7 by Universal Music Enterprises across all major digital and physical music retailers. Continue reading PATTY GRIFFIN’S UNRELEASED, SOUGHT-AFTER ALBUM, ‘SILVER BELL,’ FINALLY READY

Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby release Real World

Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby Real WorldIt’s interesting how all of us keep people in certain slots, no matter how we deny it.

Consider Brian Willoughby, best known for his work with the legendary folk-rock band the Strawbs. Sure, he’s a guitar master who is much in demand as evidenced by his work with Nanci Griffith, Mary Hopkin and many others, obviously including the Strawbs. Still, thinking of him always conjures up Strawbs’ melodies.

What a delight it is to remind ourselves of his fluid versatility. Perhaps nowhere is that clearer than on his Continue reading Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby release Real World

Matraca Berg – Love’s Truck Stop out now…

Matraca Berg didn’t set out to write five #1 hits in a single calendar year… to be nominated for Grammys in each of the past three decades… to have her seminal “Sunday Morning To Saturday Night” named one of the 10 Best Records of the Year in any genre by Time, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today and People, as well as myriad daily newspapers… or to end up in the prestigious Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame at such a young age. But here she is; one of the most consistently successful songwriters in America and she’s also a great singer, though only rarely makes her own albums.

Folking  are therefore thrilled to get behind the latest release of the new Matraca Berg album, ‘Love’s Truck Stop’ on Proper Records.

Maybe it was the deadline. Maybe it was the notion that she was making “a record.” Maybe her critically acclaimed 2011 album The Dreaming Fields (her first album in 14 years) that inspired the lithe songstress to keep reaching and writing.

For whatever reason, Love’s Truck Stop – a collection of songs that celebrate the spark of the human spirit, the resilience of women and the joy of being alive even when it’s difficult – is easily, in our opinion, the most engaging record of Matraca Berg’s career yet

“There’s something to the notion that creativity seeks creativity,” says Matraca, “The right people – the writers, musicians, even co-producer just lined up when I needed them. I had no idea who they were, no master plan, but there they were!

“It was a very small group of people, so there was this very special cohesion: it was like everyone was moving in the same direction, all moving towards the same thing. And I’m not sure if it was working at such a fast pace or the fact that I was working towards something I didn’t quite know, but could feel. It made me wanna get in the studio every day, to chase these songs to see where they were going to take us.”

The “group of people’ were Jason Goforth, a former missionary/activist turned roots musician who plays just about anything that makes music. Berg saw him backing co-writer Angel Snow at a gig at a tiny, out of the way room and the response was visceral.

“I literally chased him into the parking lot to ask if he’d work on this record,” she says with a laugh. “He probably thought I was mad, but he showed up. So it was him, and David Henry who came in as a friend and wonderful cellist/violinist/vocalist and ended up as co-producer… and me! The three of us, coloring in the songs, trying to figure out the best way to bring them.”

After Goforth and Henry (who is a veteran of the Cowboy Junkies) came David Mead, Over The Rhine, Mindy Smith and Yo La Tengo. Berg also drew on her myriad group of friends. Emmylou Harris, Kim Carnes, Pat McLaughlin, Pistol Annie’s Ashley Monroe and husband Jeff Hanna are among the vocalists.

“Emmy? Pat? Jeff Hanna?” laughs the eternally young old soul. “They’re just friends. It’s one of the beautiful things about Nashville – you call your friends, then they open their mouths! Suddenly, it’s ‘OH! That’s EMMYLOU…’

Harris’ appearance on the chilling “Magdalene,” inspired by Berg’s work with Becca Stevens’ Thistle Farms and Magdalene Project, which helps get prostitutes off the streets and give them skills to become a part of mainstream society, is stunning. Emmylou, during the recording, said, “This hit me the same way Patty Griffin’s ‘Mary’ did when I went in to sing on that…”

A diverse cast of characters, truths and locales, Love’s Truck Stop covers a lot of ground. From the scalding Cajungrass “Black Ribbons,” with its post-Gulf of Mexico oil spill bite, to the Ghandi graffitied bathroom of the “Love’s Truck Stop,” the all over but the good-bye “We’re Already Gone” and the languid flow of the girl stuck in California missing that sweet boy back home in “Sad Magnolia,” there is compassion for the downtrodden, the long gone and the outcast – all strung across lean tracks that evoke the mountains, the coffeehouses and those cracks in the walls and sidewalks where lost souls often find themselves.

That esprit de corps has always given Berg’s songs an incandescence and sparkle. Not one afraid of the gritty or the real, she finds pretty in the worst possible places. There is the elegiac piano-strewn confusion of an alcoholic’s child “Fistful of Roses,” the tautly plucky get-over-it-or-else “Buried Your Love Alive,” the against all odds folk of “Foolish Flower” that find the heart of resilience and thrive in spite of the odds.

Those get it girls… the woman who has no idea what comes after leaving in “Waiting On A Slow Train,” the 20 year old waitress with the Bible verse tattoo in “Her Name Is Mary”… survive against the odds, sowing love and light in their wake. You might not notice them, but Matraca Berg and her co-writers do.

“It’s the stories most people miss that’re most inspiring. Not the great big stardom stuff, so much as the woman making it work in spite of the odds. Sometimes just surviving that break-up, losing someone you love is everything. We’ve all been there, and it’s nice to know you’re not alone – even when it feels like no one else could ever hurt like this.”

“I just hope this record gets to the right people,” Berg says of her aspirations. “The people, who like me, who like the girl in ‘Her Name Is Mary,’ who find their truth and their strength in the songs. I’m always humbled by the stories people tell me about what music means to them – and if anything here does that, well, then, it was worth everything.”

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Tupelo release their foot-stomping album DIRTY MONEY…

Tupelo’s debut album DIRTY MONEY conjures images of a sinister, gangster-filled speakeasy in prohibition-era Chicago as the band fire out tunes to stir men of ambition and menace and brawn. Tracks like Bad Man and Cougar Cat tell that tale admirably. Others like I’m An Irishman and My Family’s Land echo the storytelling sentiments of patriotic icons like Luke Kelly giving a focused insight into their roots and aspirations. Firefly, Railroad and Blue Gardinia are the rousing, party pieces of the set in all their foot-stomping, yee-haw glory.

Tupelo are an exciting, original, acoustic roots act consisting of an eclectic line-up of instruments which includes banjo, guitar, fiddle, double bass, mandolin, harmonica and Dobro. Their sound is fresh and unique in today’s world of endless electric outfits, Mumford and Sons could be seen as a comparison. Few musicians can successfully blend a number of diverse genres, creating a sound they can exclusively call their own.

Even fewer composers can craft songs of heart, conviction and true grit to bring the best out of such a sound. Their music is a flurry of roots, rockabilly, bluegrass, country, folk and rock ‘n’ roll… often displayed all in the same song. The band’s front man and songwriter James Cramer delivers a tough, honest take on bad times and good times, struggles and triumphs, high spirits and solemn hopes… all in his own untainted accent, all in his own untainted words. Tupelo owes its name to Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey album, a favourite of James and a massive influence on his song-writing. James says Emmylou Harris in part inspired the set up of the group. “I saw an Emmylou Harris performance on TV and I knew I had to have a fiddle in the band. It worked from the first song. You can search all your life and never find the right people but it was finally together and that was the start of Tupelo.”Amongst others, James sees The Band, Shane McGowan, Bob Dylan and John Lee Hooker as the biggest influences on the band. Being one of the hardest working bands on the road today means that Tupelo’s live shows are something special to look forward to. They can count Imelda May among their fans.

Imelda said of the band “They have a wonderful sound, great musicianship and fantastic song-writing.”

2012 has heralded the release of Tupelo’s superb album DIRTY MONEY, an album that captures perfectly their energetic live sound and should garner them a legion of new fans worldwide.

“…they have embraced the kitchen-sink approach to writing, building their songs from the ground up into thrilling folk-pop dervishes” Metro

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Changing Horses – The Nashville Sessions

Changing Horses are British Indie-Folk duo Richard Birtill (vocals and guitar) and Francesca Cullen (vocals, violin, mandolin and melodeon). Stylistically taking influence from the psychedelic likes of The Incredible String Band, and the experimental art-punk of The Fall, theirs is a patchwork of off-kilter folk that has drawn in the plaudits from numerous sources. After holing up in a Nashville studio with session musician / producer Chris Donohue (Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris) the track ‘Cut All Strings’ featured on an HBO documentary and went on to pick up multiple plays on both the Steve Lamacq and Bob Harris BBC radio shows. Last year’s festival season also saw the band grace stages at Kendal Calling, Solfest, Brampton, Crawley Folk Festival and SO festival.

It’s on the live circuit the Changing Horses’ reputation has been built. The last few months have seen them perform as main support to the likes of Jeffrey Lewis, Pat Sansone (Wilco), Ade Edmondson and Adam Green. Captured here on The Nashville Sessions however, is a band vying for the unconventional, yet still maintaining core melodies. Flitting between the wistful (Cut All Strings), the fragile (One Million Screaming Angels) and the macabre (‘Till Death), when things do take a more popular twist, Birtill’s wrought vocals still punctuate Cullen’s neat string play. In turn, I Don’t Need It’s discordant opening phrasing soon makes way for a wave of anthemic guitars.

“Truly original and delightful” – Robin Williamson, The Incredible String Band

Deeply personal songwriting, tongue-in-cheek moments, macabre themes and innovative string playing make up Changing Horses’ The Nashville Sessions; a strong debut from a band that lives to draw the listener into their own lovesick universe.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.