CD Reviews 

Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House 

Sometimes to define a musical vision it can all come down to a live performance. For Canada’s roots/folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, any doubt that they have what it takes to deliver a stunning concert set is forever erased with their third album Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House, due August 11 via Red House. Sometimes to define a musical vision it can all come down to a live performance. For Canada’s roots/folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, any doubt that they have what it takes to deliver a stunning concert set is forever erased with their third album Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House, due August 11 via Red House. Co-founders, vocalists and multi-instrumentalists Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta have joined with newcomer Heather Masse for an album of glorious three-part harmonies, virtuoso playing (with fiddler Jeremy Penner) and an impressive collection of 14 songs, eight of which have not appeared on the group’s two excellent studio albums. Originally formed in 2003, The Jenny’s quickly learned that their sum was greater than the solo parts. "The group sort of just happened to us," says Mehta. "The idea was to present our individual visions in a larger collective, but before we knew it things had taken on a life of their own…What’s great is that nothing has been premeditated and we keep being surprised in the most creative, interesting ways." This new live set, recording last year at a favorite Pennsylvania concert hall, confirms that special mix of traditional and modern songwriting. Uncluttered live versions of songs such as "Glory Bound", "One Voice" and "Begin", from their 2006 disc "Firecracker" and 2004’s "40 Days", mingle with new tracks and covers, most notably a brilliant reworking of Jane Siberry’s modern standard "Calling All Angels." It’s not often that something can be described as both "loose" and "tight" simultaneously, but a performance from the amazin’ Wailin’ Jennys is just that. It’s also one of the best things we’ve heard this year. Highly recommended.