I knew I was in trouble the moment the music started. It drove a spike deep into my heart that pinned me to my seat, in a way that made me think mostly about pulling over so I didn’t have to pay attention to the traffic or not crashing into something. So that’s what I did, and turned up the volume and closed my eyes, and in that moment I knew I had found a new musical obsession. At six thirty in the morning after a night shift, sitting on the side of the road, engine running, I didn’t even wait for Margaret Gallagher (still sitting in for Sheryl MacKay on CBC’s North by Northwest, not my favorite CBC morning program) to tell me who it was: I Shazam’ed it, and realized immediately that I wouldn’t be going to bed for a while.
I’ve been trying to explain exactly what it was that made me stay up an hour after my bedtime to listen to an album on the strength of a single track, and I can’t. What I can do is say that I’ve decided I love “These Wilder Things” so much it almost hurts. No, check that: it does hurt. It’s this wonderous, amazing folky blend of sorrow and joy and love and loss and fear and it’s all driven by That Voice. Ruth Moody’s. Who is apparently part of the Wailin’ Jennys, a band I’m going to have to take more seriously from now on if That Voice is part of it, and hooray for discovering new music! But I stayed up way past my bedtime between nights to listen to the whole thing from start to finish, and it’s like this horrible drug that makes me want more more more. I want to wrap myself up with this album in a blanket and hug it as I go to sleep. That’s how much I love this album. Remember that embarassing mash note I wrote to Edie Carey a couple years back? Yeah, like that, but more.
And here’s why: The title track is this awesome force to be reckoned with, a mediation on doubt, hope, and the future. I played it again in the car driving to work the next night, and I played it loud, and you just want to soak in Ruth Moody’s lyrics and That Voice. My goodness. It’s like Rose Cousins on steroids (and seriously, Rose is a force to be reckoned with). Ruth Moody is better. I didn’t think it was possible, and I’m not kidding about this — if you haven’t listened to the track I included above, do it now so you can understand what I’m talking about. The last time I got this obsessed with a voice, it was Hayley Williams’, and I don’t even like Paramore. Anyway, if this isn’t enough to convince you, maybe you’ll listen to Mark Knopfler (who is on this album, no fooling). “She is on the very top level of singers and songwriters out there and I can’t take her off my jukebox.” She should be on your jukebox too, and never ever come off it.
OK, one more story. I was going to do a Soundcheck this week on Neko Case’s new album (“The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You” — vying for the most complicated album title I’ve run into since Marnie Stern’s “This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That” but now I’m just naming albums with long names). You’ve been around a bit, you’ve heard her previous work, you know how good Neko Case is. “These Wilder Things” is better than Neko Case’s new album. I love it to bits.
Bonus Ruth Moody tracks after the cut:
Springsteen cover (it’s really good):
This is from her previous album but it’s just as beautiful: