The latest recording by Canada’s The Wailin’ Jennys, Fifteen, continues their distinctive take on a traditional, folk, old-time stylistic mix with a group of covers.
The Wailin’ Jennys are Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse.
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 grown over the years into one of today’s most beloved international folk acts. Founding members Moody and Mehta along with New York-based Masse continue to create some of the most exciting music on the folk-roots scene, stepping up their musical game with each critically lauded recording and thrilling audiences with their renowned live performances.
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 favorite songs, including tracks by Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. Fifteen celebrates a 15-year musical partnership that has created three award-winning studio albums and one magical live recording and brought them a loyal worldwide fanbase.
The album quietly stamps the songs with the Wailin’ Jenny’s unique stylistic qualities. The Jennys vocals, supported by sensitive acoustic accompaniment, embrace the songs which take on new lives from their original recordings. For example, I like their version of the Paul Simon song “Loves Me LIke a Rock” better than the original.
Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” is a song the Jennys have been performing for a long time. The Jennys’ arrangement is stark but melodically faithful, and the group decided to twist its delivery a bit for the Fifteen version. “We trade up leads on that one, and that’s something we don’t always do, but it seemed to work really well,” Mehta notes.
The perfectly blended voices of Ruth Moody, Heather Masse and Nicky Mehta are a rare treat all on their own. Rarer still is the ability to put together a collection of covers that sounds so right as a whole record. They acknowledge some giants and shine a light on some lesser-lauded songwriters but most importantly they fill every song on Fifteen with their own character and charm.
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.
The Wailin’ Jennys – Fifteen 2017
- Old Churchyard
- The Valley
- Light of a Clear Blue Morning
- Love Me Like a Rock
- Boulder to Birmingham
- Not Alone
- Keep Me in Your Heart
- Weary Blues From Waitin’
Although best known for her work with The Wailin’ Jennys, soprano Ruth Moody is an artist of remarkable depth and grace in her own right. Critics have lauded her ethereal vocals, impressive multi-instrumentalism (she plays guitar, banjo, accordion, piano, and bodhrán), and her talent as a songwriter. Writing with a maturity and wisdom that belies her age, her songs are timeless, universal and exceptionally well-crafted, all sung with a unique intimacy and honesty that is unmistakably hers.
Ruth was a finalist in the USA Songwriting Competition and was recognized by the International Songwriting Competition for her song “One Voice,” which has gone on to be a signature song for The Wailin’ Jennys. It has been covered by countless artists and has been performed in concert halls, churches and schools throughout the world.
Ruth released her highly-anticipated full-length solo debut, The Garden, in 2010. Released via Red House Records, the album was produced by David Travers-Smith and features an all-star cast including neo-bluegrass band Crooked Still, Kevin Breit (Norah Jones, k.d. lang), Matt Peters of The Waking Eyes, Luke Doucet, Oh Susanna, and a guest appearance by The Wailin’ Jennys.
Ruth’s sophomore album, 2013’s These Wilder Things, sees her experiment with a more urgent sound, backed by another stellar cast including Crooked Still vocalist Aoife O’Donovan, American lap steel player Jerry Douglas and British guitar god Mark Knopfler. Raw and personal, These Wilder Things is a stunning triumph.
Mezzo Nicky Mehta has been called a poet and songwriter of exceptional depth and maturity whose ability to “walk with sorrow” has made her music vital and hopeful; Mehta’s songs reflect a wisdom sometimes hard-won but never uncelebrated. Her debut solo album Weather Vane was nominated for a 2002 Canadian Music Award for Outstanding Roots Recording and the venerable Sing Out! publication counted her among the most promising up and coming singer/songwriters in North America.
As a founding member of The Wailin’ Jennys, Nicky has continued to capture hearts and imaginations with her music. She was a finalist in the USA Songwriting Competition for her masterful “Arlington.” As well, her song “Begin”, a compassionate ode to mindfulness, was both featured in the film The Cake Eaters(directed by Mary Stuart Masterson and starring Kristin Stewart) and on the season finale of Lifetime’s Army Wives.
Nicky gave birth to twin boys, Beck and Finn, in July of 2009. Four years later, she is now hard at work on her newest ‘baby’ — a long awaited sophomore solo album to be released in 2014.
New York singer/songwriter Heather Masse grew up in rural Maine and began singing at an early age. Trained at the New England Conservatory of Music as a jazz singer, she is steeped in the jazz tradition, which informs her distinct approach to singing folk, pop and bluegrass.
As a member of the Billboard-charting folk group, The Wailin’ Jennys, Heather has performed at the top venues, sharing the stage with the world’s most acclaimed pop, classical and jazz acts, including Elvis Costello, Wynton Marsalis, Sheryl Crow and the Boston Pops Orchestra. She has been a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, both as a solo performer and as a member of The Jennys. Heather has performed with the contemporary bluegrass band The Wayfaring Strangers, fiddle virtuoso Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing and, in 2006, recorded an album with Joy Kills Sorrow, a contemporary string band. That year, she also released Tell Me Tonight with the Brooklyn-based collaboration Heather & the Barbarians.
In 2008, Heather released Many Moons, an EP of jazz-inspired folk duets with pianist Jed Wilson. Her full-length debut for Red House Records, Bird Song, followed in 2009, Red House Records.
Heather’s newest release, Lock My Heart, is an inspired album of jazz standards and originals with legendary pianist Dick Hyman. It has been on the Billboard charts since its release in February 2013.