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Album Review

Canadian folkies the Wailin' Jennys aren't opposed to throwing down the occasional sea shanty or English drinking song. Multi-talented singer/songwriters Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta, and Cara Luft — the latter left the group soon after the album's release and was replaced by Annabelle Chvostek — formed the group in 2002 after sharing the stage as soloists at an in-store in a local record shop, and their intoxicating blend of country, Celtic, and folk has cast a spell on not only the Great White North, but much of the U.S. as well. Like Gillian Welch or Alison Krauss, they can make new songs feel traditional ("Arlington") and old songs sound brand new ("The Parting Glass"). Their perfectly rendered harmonies swoop into choruses like a murder of crows, supplying involuntary goose bumps to even the most hardened skeptic. 40 Days is full of sparse arrangements and top-notch songwriting from all three members. Other highlights include a rousing version of the seafaring tale "Saucy Sailor" — made famous by British folk-rock pioneers Steeleye Span — Moody's beautiful title track, and Luft's rollicking (an obvious show opener) "Come All You Sailors." Fans of the Dixie Chicks, June Tabor, and even Heart will find much to love here. A most infectious first record, and highly recommended.

Biography

Formed: 2002 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Canadian folk trio the Wailin' Jennys began as a onetime-only grouping of three singer/songwriters, but musical chemistry and audience response turned them into an ongoing band. Alto Cara Luft, the daughter of professional folksingers, had played with the Lilith Fair tour in Calgary and released her own album; mezzo-soprano Nicky Mehta also had her own disc, Weather Vane; and soprano Ruth Moody, the lead singer for the roots band Scruj MacDuhk, had issued Blue Muse. But when they played together...
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