To their fans' delight, The Wailin’ Jennys are touring again and have laid down the tracks for their fifth full-length album, their first since 2011’s “Bright Morning Stars.” The popular Juno Award-winning folk trio will be in concert this Sunday, June 4, at the Uptown Theatre in Napa.
On the phone last week, founding member Ruth Moody talked about the challenge for the Jennys, all three with young children, to find time for everything that they want to do as a band.
“We decided that we wanted to record,” Moody said. “We all had really busy schedules, and it was tricky to find time to get together. We are 15 years old as a band this year. That's a big milestone and our fans have been really patient for new music for a number of years now.
“The initial idea was just to get an EP out or something, even just a few songs, maybe we'd release them digitally. We actually managed to find five days, and the girls came to Victoria (B.C.). That's where our trusted side players live, so it kind of made sense.”
The trio wanted the sessions to capture the feel of their shows, “pared down and live,” Moody said. “We spent five days in the studio and recorded nine songs, and there's this the 10th that's in the works as well. It morphed from an EP into a full-length album.
“We had some songs we hadn't recorded that we could record, but we also needed more in order to make it more than an EP. It was nuts, we were arranging vocals on the fly, which we'd never done before. It was really, some would say, rushed. Others would say organic.”
The Wailin’ Jennys are Moody, a breathy soprano and multi-instrumentalist, mezzo and guitarist/percussionist Nicky Mehta and alto vocalist and bassist Heather Masse. Moody also fronts and records as the Ruth Moody Band and has a recent performing and recording association with Mark Knopfler.
Moody spoke in some detail about her band mates. “I think about how lucky I am to have the experience to sing with them,” she said. “They're such great singers and great writers and great musicians. But especially the singing thing, that's not something that people can necessarily learn how to do.
“We all have that instinct to sing harmony, and we all know how to blend, and we know how to phrase and it's just a really special thing when you find people that you can sing with. And it's pretty much effortless, just a sheer pleasure to sing with both of them.”
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“Nicky is a very strong, smart, hard working person,” Moody said, “and then on stage, she's hilarious. We often tell her that she should try stand-up because she's so funny, but she's usually deep with her lyrics. She jokes that she writes chiefly about death, which is pretty much true. She always tackles the touchy subjects with thought-provoking lyrics. She’s an amazing song writer.
“Heather has a knack for beautiful lyrics with a slightly quirky angle that you might not think of. I love that about her writing, it's not always what you'd expect. And of course she is an incredible singer. She's the bottom but she also can sing as high as I can. She's got an incredible range.”
“She played jazz at the New England Conservatory, so she has that influence,” Moody added. “She always listened to jazz growing up and she sounds like one of those great jazz singers. She has that timeless, classic sound, but she's also very versatile, she can sing anything.
“Heather’s just a wonderful, open person. The other day we were on tour and someone said, ‘Who do I settle up with?’ and I said, ‘Oh, Nicky's in charge of the money,’ and Heather said, ‘I'm in charge of the good time,’ and that's just so Heather.”
At the Uptown, The Wailin’ Jennys will be accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Richard Moody and guitarist Adam Dobres.
Sunday, June 4, 8 p.m. $40-$50. Uptown Theatre Napa. 1350 Third St., Napa. 707-259-0123. UptownTheatreNapa.com.
David Luning Band Saturday at Silo’s
The Americana singer/songwriter is touring in support of his second album, 2017’s “Restless.” Luning is a troubadour and folk-rocker, slightly countrified, and not surprisingly a devotee of John Prine, who inspired his musical path. At Silo’s, Luning will perform with Dave Sampson on guitar, drummer Linden Reed and bassist Ben Dubin. Saturday, June 3, 8 p.m. $15-$20. Silo’s Napa. 530 Main St., Napa. 707-251-5833. SilosNapa.com.