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For The Wailin' Jennys, the road provides antidote

Berklee Performance Center, Boston, May 3, 2015

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Six shows in six nights for The Wailin' Jennys practically counts for a full-blown tour these days. In fact, this - the final stop - was the longest tour by the mainly Canadian trio playing folk and country since 2011 when the band released its last recording, "Bright Morning Stars."

A few dates here and there, but no new recording. In fact, not much has been new on the group front save Nicky Mehta having twins, who turn six in July, and Heather Masse (she's from Maine) having a kid a few years ago.

In fact, the road may have been just the right antidote for the Jennys - getting back to music. With Mehta saying how her boys Beck and Finn forbade her from singing music at home, she opined that maybe it was good to hit the road.

The choice would be hard to disagree with given the results. This is one talented trio with gorgeous, beautiful singing dominating throughout the slightly short 80-minute set. The vocal talent became apparent from the start with a cover of Neil Young's "Old Man' in a slowed down version.

Ruth Moody, Masse and Mehta took turns on lead vocals with the other two almost always contributing to make precious sounding three-part harmonies. That is the trademark of The Jennys. They were a pleasure to listen to for their singing with the pace somewhere tending between medium and slow, but they also knew how to punch it up with such touches as Mehta on drums and harp or Moody on bodhran (on a well done version of Emmylou Harris' "Deeper Well") or understated accordion adding a lot of coloration.

The group occupies a space somewhere between folk and country ("Glory Bound" where the crowd sang a few chorus parts) with a teensy bit of jazz (Masse's nice take on "Cherry Blossom Love" with its decided jazz colorings vocally). Ruth Moody's brother, Richard, supplied more of a country edge with his fiddle.

Touring frequently - at least this time - seems to have agreed with The Wailin' Jennys, particularly with the closing words from show closer, an old Irish love song, "The Parting Glass": "I'll gently rise and I'll softly call/Good night and joy be with you all."

The Stray Birds, a trio originally hailing from Lancaster, Pa., opened with a most complimentary set to The Jennys. Like the headliners, Maya de Vitry, Oliver Craven and Charlie Muench all took turns on lead vocals and changed up the instrumentation as well.

The three started out around a single mic on the slow, but effective "Bury My Body."

de Vitry handled most of the lead vocals with her mates providing backing harmonies ("The Bells"). The Stray Birds picked up the pace by the end with Craven's fiddle providing the spark. The 40-minute set provided a quick intro to The Stray Birds, but they'll be back next month for their own show.

Harmonies and trios ruled on this night from opening to closing.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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