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Firecracker

Firecracker

June 6, 2006
4.8 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Product Details

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Weber on June 6, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Firecracker is the second full-length album from the Canadian trio The Wailin' Jennys. Their first, 40 Days, won a Juno (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) as roots and traditional album of the year, and set a very high standard. But Firecracker clearly escapes the sophomore jinx that so often afflicts second albums. How does it do it?

Maybe it's the result of the change in personnel -- alto Cara Luft left the group in late 2004 and Annabelle Chvostek joined soprano Ruth Moody and mezzo Nicky Mehta. Maybe it's the two years they've taken since the release of 40 Days. Maybe it's the hundreds of live shows they`ve done, including four guest appearances on A Prairie Home Companion in just seven months during 2005. Maybe it's the shift in musical focus -- gone are Luft's Celtic influenced songs; added is a more country flavor, enhanced by a talented array of backup musicians. But probably more than anything, Firecracker escapes the jinx because of what hasn't changed from 40 Days -- the beautifully composed, flawlessly executed, exquisitely gorgeous three-part close harmony.

Firecracker includes twelve original compositions with instrumental backup, plus one traditional song, Long Time Traveler, arranged by the Jennys and sung a cappella. Moody, Mehta and Chvostek each wrote four of the originals. Although each Jenny has a distinctive writing style, the songs work well together, and show a range of related influences, from alt-country, to contemporary folk, to Appalachian/roots. And although each Jenny has a very distinctive voice, and each sings lead on her own songs, the three voices blend together perfectly to produce their trademark harmonies.

Firecracker should win the Jennys many new fans.
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The third recording from the amazing Wailin' Jennys is a real corker. It's hard to imagine a more beautiful album will be released this year. Following their first indie release and 2004's gorgeous 40 DAYS, FIRECRACKER is even better. While many are focusing this year on the nice vocalizing of the magisterial Emmylou Harris and the quite different Mark Knopfler on their album of duets, ALL THE ROADRUNNING, FIRECRACKER may get much less attention than it deserves. You won't hear more exhilarating harmony work than that of the Jennys in this new cd.

Ruth Moody--of the sweetest soprano and a folkie bent--and Nicky Mehta--with a poignant mezzo voice and an otherworldly outlook--join their newest member, Annabelle Chvostek--who has her own beautiful alto and a nice edgy sensibility. Annabelle replaces Cara Luft in the trio and brings something wonderful to their already impressive musicianship. They all play acoustic instruments with great skill: Ruth--the accordion and banjo, Nicky--the harmonica and guitar, and Annabelle--a great mandolin and violin. As in their previous recordings, each of the Jenny's manage to retain their own sound and songwriting style while forging an unmistakable "Jennys sound" that is intoxicating.

"Home" is the recurring image and theme of FIRECRACKER. Nine of the 13 songs directly address this:

--"leave the dream of hearth and home"

--"in a better home soon I will reside."

--"a place to call your own, to call your home."

--"take me back to my beginning...take me home."

--"follow heart, follow home...one round heart, one round home."

--"now the coldest day of winter has made a home of my heart.
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It's hard to review this album and not use the word 'beautiful' repeatedly. I've listened to it about a million times since I bought it and often wake up with its melodies and lyrics in my head - a pretty nice way to start the day.

Firecracker is the Jennys first album with new member Annabelle Chvostek, who seems to have slotted into the trio seamlessly while bringing her own distinctive vocal style and instrumental range. The feel of this album is slightly different from 40 Days in a way that's hard to pinpoint. That difference owes much to the new dynamic created by Annabelle's presence and Cara Luft's absence. It's a progression but not a departure.

One thing, however, remains the same - those gorgeous harmonies wrapped around lyrics that are haunting, poignant, passionate, wistful, sad, hopeful and endlessly evocative. I defy anyone with an ounce of humanity not to be moved by these beautiful songs.

Stand out tracks for me include Nicky Mehta's 'Begin', Ruth Moody's 'Prairie Town' and Annabelle's 'Apocalypse Lullaby'. But it's all good. Actually, it's all great. I love it to death.
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I purchased this CD after seeing the Wailin' Jennys on Prairie Home Companion and after reading the excellent reviews on Amazon. I must add my whole-hearted praise for this CD. Every track is amazing and the harmony is flawless. On some of the more poignant songs the harmony is so perfect that it's impossible not to be moved emotionally.

The thing that most impressed me about this trio, however, was the pure devotion they have for their craft. Absent are the crass commercialism and arrogance of the Dixie Chicks. On every track you can almost feel the love and gratefulness these girls have for their talents and their songs. Self-penned by the Wailin' Jennys themselves, their songs reflect their innermost beings and the soft passion of those innermost thoughts are treated reverently with their individual voices and their harmonies.

I cannot recommend this CD enough. It's a mellow delight for those of us who still want our music to be pure and sung simply for the delight of it.
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