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Firecracker

The Wailin' Jennys Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 15.43 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Firecracker + Bright Morning Stars + 40 Days
Price For All Three: CDN$ 53.09

  • Bright Morning Stars CDN$ 15.03
  • 40 Days CDN$ 22.63

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Product Description

Amazon.ca

When Winnipeg's Wailin' Jennys recorded their debut disc, 40 Days, back in 2004, their enthusiastic fan base--cultivated in part by significant airplay from CBC Radio One--provided the young group with a fast track to fame. Their fans' praise came first, critical acclaim arrived shortly thereafter, and a 2005 Juno for Best Roots & Traditional album soon followed. Surprisingly, as opportunities arose, founding member Cara Luft left the band, expediently replaced by Annabelle Chvostek. Thankfully, the Jennys' sound is none the worse for wear, even stronger in the respect that Chvostek's deft fiddle and mandolin playing helps to further uplift their melodies, while her warm alto adds a nice touch to the three part harmonies.

On this sophomore release, founding members Nicky Mehta and Ruth Moody continue in the tradition of writing songs independently, with each songwriter taking the lead on her own tracks. Moody seems to have the strongest songwriting sense: Listening to "Things That You Know" and "This Heart Of Mine" makes one yearn to hear the Dixie Chicks cover these tracks with the vocal strength and three-part power that the Wailin' girls do not have… yet. With a country edge and a Celtic lilt, Firecracker is an enjoyable listen, but those looking for edgy, O Brother-style country and alt-folk might find a better fit seeking out Gillian Welch or the Be Good Tanyas. Roots fans looking to dip their toes into easy listening-style acoustic music, however, will find this to be a fine fit. --Denise Sheppard

Product Description

Coming together four years ago at a Winnipeg music store, the trio of Ruth Moody, Cara Luft and Nicky Mehta are musical sisters who write, sing and play exquisite music together. Firecracker is their follow-up to 2004's 40 Days, of which Creem Magazine said: ''Sure they have a witty name. But don't be fooled into thinking that 40 Days is some kinda countrified hoe-down because Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta and Cara Luft are on a mission to restore tasteful three part harmony and good old fashioned melody back to its proper place in the forefront of intelligent pop music.'' ''Anyone familiar with the folk music scene in Manitoba and Canada generally, certainly knows that each of these women is a successful, talented and progressive artist in their own right, but the confluence of these three is a phenomenon in the making.''- Rob Vaameyer, NewWinnipeg.com. ''Spine-tingling harmony.''- Monday Magazine, Victoria.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “SET YOUR SIGHTS A HOMEWARD” June 24 2006
Format:Audio CD
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Support Canadian Artists Jan. 4 2007
Format:Audio CD
I purchased this based upon reviews and discovered an excellent set of singer-songwriter fare. The harmonies are luminous, the instrumentation divine. Fans of the Dixie Chicks or Rosanne Cash would love this disc.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Just couldn't get into it Jan. 13 2012
By CAF
Format:Audio CD
I'm very disappointed with this CD...the music is bland, repetitious and not much fun. Found only the first track had a hook that grabbed me. Not a recommendation I'm afraid. I love the Jenny's other CD's so this was quite the let-down. I'd send it back if I could.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars Aug. 9 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Very good.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  78 reviews
70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Sophomore Slump Here: Oh, that Luscious Harmony June 6 2006
By J. Weber - Published on Amazon.com
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. And for those lucky enough to see the trio live, it's an experience not soon forgotten. With gentle humor and multi-instrumental virtuosity, the Jennys quickly win over audiences. But the most striking thing, of course, is their distinctively lush harmony. It's just as flawless in their live shows, demonstrating that their sublime sound has nothing to do with studio wizardry, and everything to do with talent, lots of hard work, and an obvious passion for their music and their performances.
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "SET YOUR SIGHTS A HOMEWARD" June 24 2006
By David T. Steere, Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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."

--"my soul now seeks another home"

--"looking for a place to find some rest"

--"you set your sights a homeward."

Loving the singing and writing of Ruth, Nicky and Annabelle, it's hard to single out particular cuts in this uniformly superb production. I was, however, struck by the particular poignancy of Nicky's songs ("Begin"--listen to the way she stretches her deliver of "let go," "Starlight"--the affecting mantra of "take me home...take me home," and "Avila"--a sweet and simple a capella number of exquisite harmony) and the exhilaration of Annabelle's ("The Devil's Paintbrush Road," "Swallow," "Apocalypse Lullaby," and the great title tune, "Firecracker"). Ruth Moody, too, continues to compose and deliver songs right from the heart.

Take yourself a homeward and listen.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Acoustic Poetry Feb. 17 2007
By Mike Fazey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every track is exceptional... Aug. 15 2006
By Sandy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INSPIRATIONAL FOLK/POP WITH SUBLIME HARMONY VOCALS Aug. 20 2007
By Colin Spence - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
In my never ending quest to 'discover' music that I enjoy, I often turn to the 'folksy-rootsy' sounds of North America (and, to a lesser extent, the UK/Ireland) - sounds in which I can seek temporary refuge from the unrelenting media bombardment with what passes for popular music these days. I accept that this type of music will not appeal to everyone, but it is music which I enjoy very much (providing it is done well - and it certainly is on this album). To me, this album is an excellent example of how a contemporary presentation works well with music and songs having a more traditional folk sensibility. A few songs have a country feel to them, but it is music far removed from the country music of Nashville - this can be over-produced and formulaic (but, of course, not always); and a few other songs are simply 'quality' pop songs. I'd describe the songs as 'pretty and not gritty'. Each of the Jennys are fine songwriters in their own right and, because you have three songwriters, you get a variety of styles. Also, there is a good balance between slow, mid and up-tempo songs.

The mood of the album is difficult to describe. A common theme is one which views life's 'ups and downs' as a journey, and a journey which takes it's toll. Yet, there is always an end to this journey - at which point the 'traveller' can rest (whether this rest is provided by the stability of 'home' or the inevitability of that 'final resting place'). So, the music is tinged with both melancholy and optimism, and this gives many of the songs a bittersweet quality.

Each songwriter takes the lead vocals on her own song and, because each Jenny has a different vocal range - soprano (Ruth Moody), mezzo (Nicky Mehta) and alto (Annabelle Chvostek), this presents further variety for the listener. Perhaps the most striking thing about the vocals is the very tight and smooth harmonies (which, to a greater or lesser degree, feature on all tracks). These are some of the best harmony vocals I have ever heard in my 40 odd years of listening to popular music, they are just 'of another world' - they really are! Also, what I particularly liked about the vocals is the fact that there is nothing mannered or pretentious about how the Jennys sing.

The playing is highly accomplished (at least, that's how it sounds to me). Each of the Jennys is a versatile instrumentalist - acoustic guitar, banjo, violin, mandolin, harmonica, accordion; and the session musicians (who might not be that well known) sure know how to play. The production (David Travers-Smith) is first class, the album is neither over-produced nor under-produced - the sound is just 'spot on'; you can hear, with clarity, all of the vocal and instrumental components of the music, and they don't 'get in each others way'.

I liked all tracks - some comments about a selection of these (songwriters in brackets) :

GLORY BOUND (Ruth Moody) - Initially this song has quite a sparse sound - just Ruth's solo vocals and some restrained banjo/violin accompaniment, the sound becomes 'fuller' as the song progresses. I wouldn't say that this is gospel music (the lyrics are too introspective and the tempo is too slow). However, the lyrics contain words and phrases which are metaphors for religious experiences - this, together with the chorus 'Hallelujah' (sung in close harmony), gives a definite gospel 'feel'.

STARLIGHT (Nicky Mehta) - As with 'Glory Bound', the song starts quietly with some delicate banjo and violin. After about one and a half minutes, the tempo picks up and, also, percussion is introduced. I thought the violin and viola solos gave the song a slight Gaelic flavour. Additionally, there are some stunning harmony vocals on this track.

LONG TIME TRAVELLER (A Cappella)(Trad. arr. The Wailin' Jennys) - The shortest track at 2:10. I'm not familiar with the song, but it sounds as if the original may have been a Scottish air (comments welcome). This track is the absolute epitome of vocal harmony bliss - gorgeous.

AVILA (Nicky Mehta) - A slow to mid-tempo song which, yet again, seems to have a Scottish influence. I think this song evokes a similar mood to that of 'Glory Bound'. There is no banjo or violin here - the accompaniment is provided by various acoustic and electric guitars. There are two 'rootsy' electric guitar solos of about half a minute each and they send shivers along my spine.

PRAIRIE TOWN (Ruth Moody) - A slow tempo atmospheric song with some wonderfully mellow acoustic guitar/ National guitar playing - a very relaxing sound.

FIRECRACKER (Annabelle Chvostek) - Another slow tempo song - quite a 'laid back' sound featuring mandolin and acoustic guitar accompaniment. Annabelle's alto voice has an almost sultry edge to it - something you don't get when Nicky and Ruth take the lead vocals.

If you like popular music with a 'neo-traditional' folk sound and/or superb harmony vocals, then you ought to give this one a listen - you don't know what you are missing! This is the sort of popular music that makes me want to chuck my modest hi-fi set-up straight into the bin, and replace it with some high-end audiophile stuff - trouble is, I can't afford it (but I can dream). Sheer, unadulterated quality from a very talented band and session musicians. If you get the feeling that I rather enjoyed this album, you'd be dead right - 5 stars (minimum).

I've almost 'saved up enough pennies', so I will be ordering '40 Days' very soon - I've heard the samples, so I don't think I will be too disappointed.
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