These Wilder Things
True North Records (Canada)
Red House Records (U.S.)
On These Wilder Things, Ruth Moody of the Wailin’ Jennys offers a hauntingly beautiful set of 10 songs – nine of them original – on themes of love, loss and friendship in arrangements that reflect both traditional and contemporary sensibilities.
Among my favorite songs is “Trouble and Woe,” which reminds me “One Voice,” one of Ruth’s earlier songs recorded by the Jennys. With Ruth singing quietly at the outset and picking out the melody on her banjo, the song begins in a mood of sadness – “The world is full of trouble and woe” – eventually becoming a song of hope, “The world is full of promise and love.”
Other highlights include “Pockets,” a poignant rumination on youthful friendship featuring lovely electric guitar fills and harmony vocals by Mark Knopfler; “Life is Long,” a lovely reminiscence of someone – could be a lover, a friend, a parent – who has died featuring a Celtic arrangement built on Mike McGoldrick’s whistle and John McCusker’s fiddle; and “Make a Change,” an autumnal song that thematically recalls Joni Mitchell’s “Urge for Going.”
In addition to her own songs, Ruth offers a delightful, folk-style version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” which brings something new and different to the song.
From song to song, Ruth moves from banjo to guitar to ukulele and piano and receives multi-instrumental support from producer David Travers-Smith and frequent Jennys sideman Adrian Dolan. Along with those already mentioned, there are cameo appearances from Dobro master Jerry Douglas, Crooked Still singer Aoife O’Donovan, and fellow Jennys Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse.
These Wilder Things is Ruth’s second solo album. Click here for my review of The Garden, her first.