CD Reviews 

Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House 

One of the most dynamic contemporary folk groups of the 21st Century, The Wailin’ Jennys return live in a concert captured late summer 2008. One of the most dynamic contemporary folk groups of the 21st Century, The Wailin’ Jennys return live in a concert captured late summer 2008. We are treated not only to top-notch performances on a wonderfully diverse selection of material, but we hear first hand the enthusiasm and support from the audience, their fans.

Impeccable trio harmonies cap lead vocal work be each "Jenny" in turn. Fiddler/violinist Jeremy Penner is a match made in heaven for the female threesome; his playing provides colorful complement, a fourth "voice" via his instrument. There are many highlight moments on the CD; as a complete work it is exemplary.

Originals are deftly woven among superb choices of works by others from various corners of music. "Racing With the Sun," by legendary folk performer Ella Jenkins, is hot, silkily delivered by Heather Masse’s lead voice. She also fronts vocals on such classics as the traditional "Motherless Child," on Huddie Ledbetter’s "Bring Me Li’l Water Silvy" – where the Jennys nail with flawless timing three-part harmonies sung a cappella – and on "Summertime," from the Gershwin-Heyward folk opera Porgy and Bess.

Ruth Moody provides lead vocals on four tracks, two of which are her compositions, "One Voice" and "Glory Bound," the latter of which she describes as a nondenominational Gospel song. Moody’s versatile voice goes from restrained, emotion-filled "sweet" on the traditional "Bold Riley" to a more country-esque sound on the Welch-Rawling song "One More Dollar."

Nicky Mehta offers two originals with "Arlington" and "Begin," both lovely lyrically. But it is her dynamic voice that kicks off the album with "Deeper Well" (Olney-Lanois-Harris), and sets the tone for an exceptional evening of live music. She is called upon again for the sensitive "Calling All Angels" from the pen of Jane Siberry.

Live defines great music matched with an equally superb recording. Bravo!