Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Wailin’ Jennys - 40 Days

Prairie Music

The Wailin’ Jennys - 40 Days

If I had to be stuck in a room listening to three people sing for an obscene amount of time, those three people would be Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta and Annabelle Chvostek. They happen to be The Wailin’ Jennys from Winnipeg Canada…and damn, can they sing.

Two of the things that I really enjoy in life are female singers and A Prairie Home Companion. Garrison Keillor, the host of the afore mentioned A Prairie Home Companion, is probably one of the best living storytellers in the world today. He’s a great thinker, writer and speaker. He has one of those voices you can listen to for hours on end and just get lost in. As I said, he also happens to be the host of A Prairie Home Companion. It’s a two hour radio, show heard far and wide, on NPR every Saturday evening. There are always musical guests and it was on one of these shows that I first heard The Wailin’ Jennys perform.

From that first time I heard these three women sing together, I was hooked. I was so taken with the way that their voices fit together and the sound of their voices, both solo and combined, that I just wanted to hear more. I looked them up on the net and found their website http://www.thewailinjennys.com/ and then found their album 40 Days on iTunes.

40 Days was released in 2004 and is their most recent offering. If I only had three words to describe this album they would be pretty much perfect. There are a very few things that I’m not completely in love with on 40 Days and mostly it’s song selection. There are a couple of traditional tunes that end up on the album that puzzle me, but if you look at 40 Days as a folk album…I guess more traditional material has its place there.

That’s really it for my negatives. Everything else here is just golden. The song One Voice that leads off the album is my favorite. It starts out very simply with...you guessed it, one voice. It is soon joined by another and then finally a third to complete the harmony, which is fantastic. The Jennys voices are so clean that they just make the harmonies come to life. They also use that quality in a rather inspired cover of Neal Young’s, Old Man. Aside from singing Moody, Mehta, and Chvostek are gifted musicians playing guitar, dobro, harmonica, accordion, keyboards and bodhran (a traditional Celtic drum) between them.

The album itself is very well and minimally produced by David Travers-Smith. Another person who deserves credit for the success of 40 Days is Cara Luft who had been one of the original members of the The Wailin' Jennys until her departure in October of 2004. Her spot in the trio was filled by Annabelle Chvostek.

To me, the album breathes. The melodies and the harmonies get inside you as you listen to them and for a while they just take on a life of their own.

So, should you listen? Definitely.

You can purchase 40 Days @

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