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The Wailin' Jennys: Firecracker

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The Wailin' Jennys are Canada's latest export to the rest of the music world. The group first performed in a Winnipeg guitar shop in 2002. This year's release of their newest CD, Firecracker, is introducing them to a wider audience south of the 49th parallel.

The Wailin' Jennys combine traditional bluegrass instruments with contemporary lyrics and memorable three-part harmonies. The result is immensely pleasing. Vocal harmonies are a tradition in country music dating back to the Carter Family. However, I'm convinced that nobody does harmonies like the Wailin' Jennys.

Each of the three women in the band--Annabelle Chvostek, Nicky Mehta and Ruth Moody--take turns writing the songs on this CD. They also take turns singing lead. Every song unveils some new evidence of their harmonic vocal gymnastics. Their sweet vocals are expertly blended with some strong instrumental backing. The result is a hot CD with 13 songs that will make you sit up and pay attention.

The only song they didn't write on Firecracker is an a cappella arrangement of the traditional favorite, "Long Time Traveler." However, I prefer the more contemporary tunes such as "Avila," which plays their harmonies off against a couple electric guitars. "Glory Bound," "Sparrow," and "Prairie Town" are all favorites.

On the CD's title track, they sing, "You can get used to anything." Garrison Keillor has gotten used to having the Wailin' Jennys as guests on his Prairie Home Companion radio show. Maybe you've heard them there. If so, Firecracker is something you can get used to.

--Curt Nichols

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