CD Reviews 

A warm Winnipeg welcome 

Last Sunday, after almost a year away from Winnipeg stages, The Wailin’ Jennys finally came home – and they brought a new friend with them. The Wailin’ Jennys play first hometown show with newest member, Heather Masse (The Wailin’ Jennys Oct. 14, Pantages Playhouse Theatre)

Last Sunday, after almost a year away from Winnipeg stages, The Wailin’ Jennys finally came home – and they brought a new friend with them.

Presented by the Winnipeg Folk Festival and recorded for CBC Radio, the two-set, two-hour Pantages gig marked the Winnipeg debut of new Jenny Heather Masse, who replaced outgoing Montreal artist Annabelle Chvostek early this year.

Masse may be the perfect catch for the peripatetic band, which is rounded out by Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta. The statuesque New Yawk singer introduced a song inspired by a drive to meet a boyfriend who was working upstate on an organic farm – sounds like a good fit for a band born in Winnipeg’s granola belt.

Of course, there’s also her voice: Masse’s surprisingly deep vocal sent a ripple of reaction through the audience. It’s a throaty voice, fit for sultry jazz (indeed, Masse is jazz-trained), and on Sunday night, it was best showcased on a spooky a cappella rendition of Lead Belly’s Bring Me Little Water Silvy.

Now rounding out the instrumentation is Moody’s old Scruj MacDuhk cohort, fiddler Jeremy Penner (aka "the boy Jenny"), whose restrained melodies added fullness without being overpowering.

As always, the Jennys’ lush ballads were gorgeous, their a cappella trio harmonies mesmerizing, and their covers (like a finely-tuned rendition of Jane Siberry’s Calling All Angels) well suited to their strengths. But their sets were weighted by the preponderance of slower tunes in their catalogue; adding a few more playful numbers would add more momentum to a sound that sometimes runs too pretty.