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Firecracker

The Wailin' Jennys

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Album Review

Though Cara Luft, a founding member of the Wailin' Jennys, was replaced by Annabelle Chvostek, the band's tight harmonies and pretty folk songs haven't changed at all on their second album, Firecracker. In fact, they've even gotten better. Chvostek's voice is seductively low and versatile, and it blends well with and adds a lot of strength and depth to the higher ranges that Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta provide. All three Jennys are also great songwriters, and everything on the album is well done, with thoughtful reflective lyrics about love and friendship and death, the cold autumn wind of the Canadian prairie blowing through the record, shaping and influencing the mandolin, the banjo, the acoustic guitar, the violin, the National Steel. It's music with a dark, sweet edge, like it understands the pain in the world but still chooses to focus on what's good instead. "Swallow," though in its attempt to maintain rhythm and rhyme the lyrics can occasionally sound a little corny ("You got me, arrow shot me/Now come connect the dot me"), lilts along like the bird itself as it explores love's transience, while "Avila" is simple and pretty, with a delicate chorus of "O sweet peace never have you fallen/never have you fallen upon this town," sung in three-part harmony, that sense of longing lodged between the notes of a slow, aching electric guitar solo that winds its way through the song. A similar feeling is also apparent in "Glory Bound," manifested as a desire for a reprieve from life's hardships. It's not morbid, it's simply sad and honest in that uplifting way that only country and folk music can be. There is a melancholy that lies within many of the Wailin' Jennys' songs, but there's still an overwhelming sense of hope and happiness that is even stronger, and makes Firecracker a really great, uncontrived album.

Customer Reviews

A Departure...

When I last saw the Jennys live (late 2005), they continued to delight me with their masterful vocal performances. They had performed several cuts from this album at that time and I had eagerly anticipated this release. In my opinion, either this album is not representative of their true sound or something has changed in the intervening months. Whereas before I had been mesmerized by the "spine-tingling harmonies," I find the vocals are buried behind a LOT of backup instrumentals. In my opinion these detract from the strengths that make the Jennys unique. There are several cuts that will please those with my taste (Long Time Traveller, Prairie Town), and it is worth a listen to this album to appreciate the addition of Annabelle Chvostek. Ah! I still consider myself a fan, and hope when I see their next show that the stage is miked for three places, and no drum kit is in sight.

Out of the ballpark!

The Jennys are an amazing folk group who have won the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy for their last effort, "40 Days". This new album contains material that they have been sharing with their audiences for over a year and they are all crowd favorites... not a clunker in the bunch. Devil's Paintbrush Road with a fiddle used as a guitar kicks it off right. Swallow will have you singing along quickly. Apocalypse Lullaby and Avila give me goosebumps. You will love this album.

The Wailing Well

I just saw the Jens wail last night in Tarrytown and they were sublime. The audience was full of Jenheads; a bunch of Prairie Home Companions who were moved right down to their arch supports. This album's music was featured and it was the Grand New Opera, baby. Twangy, fancy fingered music. Show me the harMONY! They play several instruments...even play a violin like a mandolin. They are a warm front from Winnipeg and the real deal. Sure, there is a bit of Lillith Fair in them and at moments I had to tap into my estrogenius to get through some of it. But their music is so soothing. As languid as a baby napping in a soft sway hammock. Their voices blend together so intricately that they somehow morph into this one singular harmonic presence. Let's see David Blaine do that. Their voices are as clear as a Sunday morning church bell on a wide open Nebraska wheat field. This is real, potent, music. Lilting. Mystical. Celtic to it's toes. This album will seduce you, massage you, and so make you want to have a menage a quatre. Leave the hip hop to the sexyback kids and come join the Canadian club. And if you're wondering...yes, I'm a writer.

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...
Full Bio
Firecracker, The Wailin' Jennys
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