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Wailin' Jennys

Fifteen – 2017 (Red House)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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There's nothing lovelier in this world than the sound of human voices huddled in harmony. That's immediately apparent when listening to the close knit collaboration that's rooted in the Wailin' Jennys, a well-versed folk trio whose three members - Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse - have celebrated a special kinship for the better part of the past 15 years. Although each can claim a solo career, different habitats and individual family responsibilities, it's obvious that when they bond through their music, there's scant space between them that can't be celebrated in song.

That makes "Fifteen" an auspicious outing, not only because it marks the group's decade and a half long anniversary, but also the fact that even with the barest arrangements and most intimate accompaniment, these three women can successfully combine as a singular force. The majority of the album is sung a capella, and even the better known covers included here - a revisit to Tom Petty's "Wildflowers," a precious take on "Boulder to Birmingham," a snappy, finger-popping reinvention of "Loves Me Like a Rock," and a hushed read given to Dolly Parton's tender "Light of a Clear Blue Morning" among them - find renewed solace via the Jennys' renditions.

Granted, there's a subdued side to these songs, but given the fact that these are their concert staples, the unblemished treatments have grown organically. Indeed, there's an ease and innocence at work here that goes to the very core of their delicate delivery. There's no pretence, no posing, no undue deliberation. It's music that reflects the very core of what this band is all about.

Naturally, there will be those who haven't got the patience to abide these solitary sounds. Yet that doesn't negate the subtleties these songs entail. Ultimately, the nine tracks that make up "Fifteen" find a sum total of beauty that's nearly beyond belief.