Jessica Rhaye – Far Gone Lullabies (Independent)
The fact that “Far Gone Lullabies” is available to buy in multi-formats: CD, download, or on honest-to-goodness 12” black vinyl, must surely be an indication of the confidence Jessica Rhaye has in her fourth album. Her belief seems well placed, and various luminaries of the Canadian indie singer-songwriter scene have surely shared her faith from the outset of the project, as several have joined her to co-write songs and appear on the record.
The New Brunswick native is a firm advocate of artistic growth, and her latest collection hits a series of new heights right from the off. Launch track “It Is All Right” is an absolute doozy. Co-written with Royal Wood, who also contributes vocals, it’s a first-rate adult-orientated pop song, with a warm acoustic feel-good buzz and plentiful hooks. It’s also our first introduction to Rhaye’s voice, and it’s a particularly rich, wholesome and thoroughly endearing voice, easy to live with and ideally suited to her songs.
There’s a good deal more to come - “On My Mind for a While” is a charming slice of country-flecked pop, with Bruce Bouton’s pedal steel guitar adding emphasis to a delightful song, and on “Ice Flow” Rhaye combines folk narrative and instrumentation with a little Pink Floyd spectacle – it’s a dramatic combination.
Her collaboration with Ron Sexsmith “You Know Me Better” is the sort of captivating roots-pop that we’ve come to expect from the acclaimed Sexsmith, and here the pair compliment each other beautifully. On the final track “Four Strong Winds”, an epic, widescreen quality is evoked, almost as broad as the scenery and passions Rhaye depicts. It also comes with a massively catchy chorus that you’ll find yourself singing out loud at inopportune moments – or maybe that’s just me…