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The Wailin’ Jennys’ ‘Bright Morning Stars’ Tackles Love, Loss
Voice of America
By Katherine Cole
Some bands are birthed after months of auditions, trying to find just the right lyricist to mesh with an incredible singer and stellar guitar player. Others are more of a happy accident. The Wailin’ Jennys fall into that latter category. The group began at a one-time-only show in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. But the band is still going strong four CDs later.
The title track is the only non-original song on the new Wailin’ Jennys CD. It’s a traditional song called “Bright Morning Stars” done a cappella, or without instruments, and featuring vocals by all three Jennys.
Their name might be a takeoff on the late country star Waylon Jennings, but The Wailin’ Jennys are serious about making good music. Their first CD, 2004’s 40 Days, earned them a Juno Award, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy, while also winning great acclaim in the United States. Bright Morning Stars, is home to 12 original songs and is their first release since 2009. In the years between, the band exploded on the roots music scene, and their new CD hit the top spot of the Billboard magazine Bluegrass chart two weeks after its release.
Bright Morning Stars is built around The Wailin’ Jennys three part harmonies. If there is a theme to the disc, it might be love and loss. The CD opens with “Swing Low Sail High,” featuring writer Nicky Mehta singing lead.
The Wailin’ Jennys Nicky Mehta is described as a “trained dancer raised on classical music.” She’s the Jenny who wrote “Sing Low Sail High” and also sang lead on the track. In 2002, Nicky formed The Wailin’ Jennys with Ruth Moody, a classically trained pianist and vocalist-turned-folk musician. Ruth wrote and sings lead on four of the songs on Bright Morning Stars, including “Asleep At Last.”
The third member of The Wailin’ Jennys is Heather Masse, the lone U.S. native. She joined in 2007, bringing with her a background in jazz. Like her two band mates, Heather is also a songwriter and contributed four tracks to Bright Morning Stars, including “Cherry Blossom Love” which showcases the bands harmony singing.