Puremusic interview with Nicky Mehta
The Wailin' Jennys
by Frank Goodman   photos by Greg King

I started hearing the buzz on this talented Canadian trio at the Folk Alliance in Nashville in 2003, but because of celebrity hubub and other factors of the moment, I was not able to connect with them there.

But Cara Luft and I got back to each other sporadically afterward, and we decided to wait a while to review them in Puremusic until their first full length CD came out. The water under the bridge washes away so many things that it was a big surprise when, many moons later, their 40 Days CD appeared at my Nashville door, courtesy of their Canadian booking agency, Paquin Entertainment.

A trio or quartet of established songwriters band together and fashion an actual group, make a record and tour: it's a formula that these downturned times has seen revisited more than a couple of times in various genres of music. But it's always a tricky thing, getting people with already individuated styles of writing and performing, especially as solo artists, to strike a blend and sublimate their invariably Type A personalities in order to democratize and conquer.

I was really at home with the CD right off. All three vocalists are very classy, each is in a different range and an alchemical blend is going down. The vocal arrangement of the material is classic without being cliche, with a sound that is effortless and natural.

The personalities, like the voices, seem from their respective songs and physical images to be pitched differently. The soprano plays the softer side, the mezzo the deep sensitive side, and the alto the outgoing, funny side. Simplified, but archetypal. With all due respect, it's a very marketable and likeable setup. They're very talented players as well, and if someone decides to pick up a bass, they could turn around and be a very viable pop act in a heartbeat. Nothing about them limits them to playing the folk music circuit, they've already shown the ability to write all kinds of songs. Just an observation. And it's obvious enough that they're youthful and good looking. You may not have heard of them yet, but we won't be at all surprised when they do big things. I've been watching a lot of music television from all over Asia the last few days, working on different things from a Shanghai hotel room, and I certainly hear something global in the Jennys' sound, especially when their image and live capabilities are considered.

I'd been planning to talk with Cara Luft, and some of my questions were oriented around that expectation. When Jill at the Mgt. office and I came to the conclusion that Cara was out of range at the moment, Nicky Mehta stepped up to the plate and she and I had a lovely conversation. (Cara had overslept, as it turned out, and made an endearing call of apology later, when I had a few too many balls in the air myself to properly thank her for that.)

So, we're very happy to bring you that conversation with Nicky Mehta and introduce at least some of you to The Wailin Jennys, coming soon to your town. Don't miss them--in fact, you can buy Forty Days right here. Clips on the Listen page.    continue to interview