Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In review--And it's Alright...

Ruth Moody
The Garden
Red House Records


I didn’t know what to expect from Ruth Moody’s (Wailin’Jennys) solo outing The Garden. I thought the musician-songwriter would bring out the Celtic music influence, but you won’t find any Irish fiddling on this album. You will find fabulous musical arrangements that fall between country, bluegrass and folky pop (Travellin’Shoes) and you’ll find some of Moody’s best song crafting of her career thus far. Moody expands her vocal range singing in a whispery voice on Never Said Goodbye (she also plays piano on the track), and then giving Emmy Lou Harris a run for her money on the duet We Can Only Listen. On Tell Me she recalls Patsy Cline’s classic hits. Moody also crafts catchy tunes with witty turn of phrases.

The other thing Moody does that amazes me is she takes old worn out phrases such as “birds of a feather stick together” and she turns it into art. I’m not sure if she’s using these phrases as clever devices or if she’s poking fun at them. Either way she lifts the IQ of country-style music a few notches. There’s a belief out there that country music is for brain dead people, but we must remember that country singers with higher IQs and song writing talent exist in the sea of mediocrity. They might not receive airplay on commercial country stations, but do show up on community radio specialty shows.  Moody's brilliance is in how she turns a phrase and makes it her own as well as, how she conveys difficult emotions through her poetry and heartfelt singing.

Standouts on this charming disc are the piano ballad Never Said Goodbye, the lively title track, the Americana with a capital “A” song, Nest and the sexy Cold Outside. You must remember that Ruth hails from Winnipeg where winter comes in October and doesn’t leave until May. I’m growing fond of this recording which closes with the other 2/3rdof the Jennys lending their vocals to Closer Now

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