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

Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 2

Foxy Fri 300x400Blimey, its 6.00am and I’m in the shower… what the folking heck is going on. It’s not what your thinking… unless you are talking about it being “probably the best festival shower block in the world“… hot water at daybreak – on a campsite – who’d have though it, but after all, this is the 49th Cambridge Folk Festival, so they have had plenty of practice getting it right.

Due to the time it takes putting these things together, I didn’t actually get to see yesterdays opening act on the main stage as I was working on the folking day 1 review, but could hear, from the press office that it was lively set by a band called Korrontzi.

So my first visual act of the day was Finland’s frigging brilliant Frigg. A blend of Nordic folk and American bluegrass dubbed “Nordgrass”. See them in action below.

I then needed to head off and sort out the accommodation arrangements for the folking new resident photographer, who had finally turned up… the son of Clicker… for those old enough to remember the intensely focused original, he has got a lot to live up to.

LAPD 300x224Got back just in time to see the final number from Patty Griffin and then rushed down the front to wait in anticipation for one of the highlights of my weekend, LAPD, which for those of you in the know, are three quarters of Planxty (Liam O’Flynn, Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny) and the original Bothy Band fiddler (Paddy Glackin). We were treated to the Sweeney’s Men’s classic, My Heart’s Tonight In Ireland  and the Planxty standard, The Blacksmith. What a set, from one of the original Irish boy bands!

Now with son of clicker joining the folking team we raced round for the next hour or so and managed to catch Amadou & Mariam, for a bit African electric blues and then SOC (Son of Clicker) made it over to see Darrell Scott, of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy fame doing his own improvisational set. SOC thought it was brilliant and I was folking pissed I missed it!

Ross Couper & Tom OakesSOC headed for the club tent and shot some great footage of Ross Couper and Tom Oakes, a dynamic young, fiddle player and guitarist duo, adding a modern touch to the Scottish and Irish tradition.

Then we plunged into the double whammy of the Levellers followed by Bellowhead, two headliners in one night!

Levs1 300x225The Levellers played a storming set of old favorites and newer numbers, finishing with the unique experience of a stage full of Levs and Bellowhead for ‘The Recruiting Sergeant‘. How they get them all on the stage I don’t know!

Bellowhead followed with their own set with tracks from their latest ‘Broadside‘ release and Jon Boden’s ever natty suit jacket!

Emily Barker 300x225 Cams FFWe also managed to get over to Stage 2 to see the angelic Emily Barker , a compelling singer-songwriter and mesmerising live artist, who along with her band The Red Clay Halo blend classical, rock, country and folk influences to stunning effect. Emily’s appearance recently on the BBC Radio 2 Dermot O’leary show and performance with Frank Turner at the London 2012 Olympics in front of a global televised audience is certainly moving her and the band up the musical genre food chain.

Roving Crows 300x224Then over to the Club Tent to see the Roving Crows, we covered the last album Bacchanalia back in May last year and I had been itching to see them ever since.

Here is the link If you missed NANCY DUNHAM’s review: http://folking.com/the-roving-crows-bacchanalia/

They gave a great closing performance to the Friday night in the club tent and any festival organiser reading this, I urge you to book them as soon as possible as they are a folking brilliant live act!

The queue to the bus back to Coldham’s Common campsite was huge so we decided to reenact the Richard Thompson song and walk those long miles home. The temptation of bed was calling but the lure of another beer and the campsite stage was too strong and as we watched the current act finish, we found a seat and a beautiful young girl took to the stage, with a solitary guitar and opened her mouth, and wow, what came out made my night, a sound somewhere between Janis Joplin and Sandy Denny. Sue Marchant, from BBC Radio Cambridge had arranged the last minute slot and boy am I glad she did! We’ll feature one of her own compositions called “Fall across the sea” as a later feature, but to wet your appetite now, here is her version of Robert Johnson’s “Me and the devil blues”… Ladies and gentlemen and general reprobates, I give you Leila Jane… The end to what Lou Reed would describe as “a perfect day”.

The folkmaster

ROSE’S PAWN SHOP set to release DANCING ON THE GALLOWS

Rose’s Pawn Shop dancing on the gallowsSinger-songwriter Paul Givant grew up on the disparate array of popular musical styles any late 20th century kid did. And in that mishmash of rock, punk, country, pop, rap, and all the rest, it was American Folk and Bluegrass music that rooted deepest, transforming him and his songs. Having played in various rock bands since early high school, in 2004 Paul decided it was time to take his growing batch of old style/new school folk songs, and build them into something greater, more ferocious. The songs were there, volatile, almost flammable, but if they were to attain their potential greatness, he was going to need help.

Through a series of chance meetings and twists of fate Paul hooked up with kindred spirits in Sebastian St. John, Derek O’Brien, Bill Clark, Derek Swenson, and John Kraus and in 2005 they laid the foundations of the band that would soon become Rose’s Pawn Shop. They combined the old style American sounds of Woody Guthrie, Bill Monroe, and Hank Williams, the high energy punk of The Ramones, and The Pogues, and the melodic songwriting sensibilities of Elliott Smith and The Beatles, creating something musically unique.

The final ingredient was added one fateful day when Paul’s scorned ex-girlfriend/former band mate, in an act of revenge, stole the band’s instruments and gear and took them down to the local pawn shop. Priceless. Rose’s Pawn Shop was born…

In spring of 2006 after months of playing live and breaking ground around Los Angeles, the band recorded and released their debut album The Arsonist, which soon won critical praise from numerous print and online publications and they’ve been touring the United States almost non-stop ever since. On any given day you might find Rose’s Pawn Shop playing the Georgia Theatre in Athens, busking the streets of Jackson Square in New Orleans, opening for Jack White and The Raconteurs at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, ripping the walls off the club in their month long residency at the Parkside Lounge in New York City, or hitting the main stage of Floydfest in Virginia. On any given day they’re out there, growing their music, igniting their passion, and converting an ever increasing congregation of loyal fans.

More recently, Rose’s Pawn Shop entered the studio with renowned producer Ethan Allen (Patty Griffin, Counting Crows, Luscious Jackson) to record the second album, Dancing On the Gallows, on which Rose’s Pawn Shop rise to a new level of song craft and sound experimentation, while retaining the same fiery intensity and excitement of their early material.

With wisdom beyond their years, they fearlessly confront traditional country music themes of loss, lamentation, and redemption, while throwing in some drinking-songs for good measure. Sure, they’re borrowing pages from the books of Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, and Johnny Cash, but Rose’s Pawn Shop takes those pages, tears them up and sets them on fire with breakneck speed, bluegrass instrumentation, 3 and 4-part vocal harmonies and lyrics that’ll break your heart.

Whether it’s the dreamy snake-charm-thump of ‘Lone Rider’, the wistful whisky-soaked wisdom of ‘Down The Line’, the honky-tonk ruckus of ‘Funeral Pyre’, or the Gypsy-infused mandolin twang of ‘Reckoning’, Rose’s Pawn Shop will hook you. Like catfish from the creek, they’ll reel you in. And they won’t let you go.

Rose’s Pawn Shop is now: Paul Givant (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo), John Kraus (banjo, electric guitar, vocals) Tim Weed (fiddle, mandolin, vocals) Stephen Andrews (upright bass) and Christian Hogan (drums).

Artist web link: www.RosesPawnShop.com

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.

“Rose’s Pawn Shop makes a statement with their music. Life is hard and we’re gonna sing about it and get over it. Sometimes its upbeat, sometimes its slow and sorrowful. Regardless, they know their roots and that is remarkably bold.” KEXP, Seattle

“You can feel the whole barn rumble on Dancing On The Gallows … with booming bass drum, in your face fiddle,and runaway-train banjo… will, bluegrass fan or not, have the toe of your worn leather boot tapping in no time.” No Depression

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.

Award-Winning Songsmith Susan Greenbaum Announces This Life, New Album Available Jan 31

Susan Greenbaum committed the first sin of musicians: She quit her day job. After working as a corporate executive in Fortune 500 companies, she traded her power suits for performing and songwriting. Since then, the Harvard graduate is poised for success, having won several national songwriting awards, including the Smithsonian Songwriters Award, The Philadelphia Songwriters Project and released four albums independently. Now, Greenbaum is releasing This Life, her most insightful and engaging songs to date, distributed by Compass Records Group this January 31st. Continue reading Award-Winning Songsmith Susan Greenbaum Announces This Life, New Album Available Jan 31