Home Feature Ruth Moody releases new single with Joey Landreth

Ruth Moody releases new single with Joey Landreth

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It’s the mark of a great artist when even a pledge of undying devotion has more going on than meets the eye. For proof, listen to “The Spell of the Lilac Bloom,” the romantically straightforward — or is it? — latest single from Ruth Moody’s new album, Wanderer.

Singing in the gorgeous soprano that the Huffington Post says could be “the prettiest voice in all of North Americana these days,” the Winnipeg-raised folk singer lays out a plan of the heart that rings hopeful and forthright.

All signs point to a traditional romance, one our narrator envisions progressing from courtship to the altar. The verses abound with references to “sway(ing) in your arms” at “the old dance hall” and forgoing the traditional “wearing (of) white” to instead “do it our way if that’s alright.” But as Ruth explained, the reality behind the lyrics is a bit more nuanced and complex.

“I wrote this song while I was living in Portland, OR and had recently found out that I was pregnant with my son,” she revealed. “I was full of wonder and excitement, but also coming to terms with the fact that life was about to change forever. It was spring, and the lilacs were in bloom; that scent would put me in a dream when I’d go out walking. One day, I went out into the rain, and the words to this song came into my head. I went home and put it to banjo.”

Appropriately, it’s only thanks to her real-life romantic relationship that the number got recorded in the form it was destined to take – as a duet with Joey Landreth of Winnipeg roots-rockers The Bros. Landreth.

“I played the song for my partner, and he immediately heard it as a duet,” Ruth recalled. “I was thrilled when I asked Joey Landreth to play and sing on this while I was in the studio, and he said “‘Yes!’”

It was the best of calls all the way around. Not only do their alternating lead lines make them the perfect vocal foils for each other, but Joey lays down some atmospheric resonator guitar that beautifully enhances Ruth’s graceful banjo.

The song is a charming and delicate highlight of Wanderer, which chronicles the life journey Moody has been on since her last album, These Wilder Things, dropped in 2013. That pregnancy led to an extended hiatus in which she chose to focus on her roles as a mother and life partner. When she was ready to record again, she had 10 new songs bursting with newfound wisdom and ready to be tracked with co-producer Dan Knobler at Sound Emporium in Nashville (where Ruth spends a good deal of her time these days).

It’s all a long way from her childhood on a goat farm in Manitoba. Then again, she’s never been one to shy away from growth and change. By her 20s, she was on the Billboard charts with the folk trio she had co-founded, The Wailin’ Jennys. (They’re still going strong after 22 years.) Between that and the parallel solo career she began in 2010, she’s been the proud recipient of two Juno Awards and six nominations —and found time to collaborate regularly with the legendary Mark Knopfler, both on record and as a member of his live band.

The combination of that gig, The Wailin’ Jennys’ activity and her work as a solo act has allowed Ruth to tour extensively, appearing at some of the most prestigious venues on the planet.

With Wanderer out, she’s cementing her status as a live draw with a tour of top listening rooms in the U.S.

She will also play the Winnipeg Folk Festival in July.

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