Ruth Moody “Wanderer”

Blue Muse Records, 2024

Album art for Ruth Moody "Wanderer"

For the listeners, the lovers, the dreamers, and all those who wander.

Album art for Ruth Moody "Wanderer"It’s not every day that an album sweeps you off your feet and hits the spot on first listening. Nor does every album have a complete set of songs that take your breath away. Yet, here we have both in this new album, ‘Wanderer‘, from award-winning multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Ruth Moody. Moody has a well-established and quite remarkable history. She is a founding and current member of the astonishing and inimitable The Wailin’ Jennys and has collaborated with the mighty Mark Knopfler, dueting, supporting and guesting in his band.

Wanderer‘ is a musical memoir of Moody’s life’s adventures over the past decade. It delves into the emotional rollercoaster of motherhood, the bittersweet symphony of life, the enigmatic dance of love, and the universal yearning for a place to call home. Moody’s songwriting is poetic and sophisticated and creates a gloriously picturesque soundscape with a natural, organic energy. Her lyrics include delicate and thoughtful analogies that are original, often profound, yet simply relatable:

“Used to know how to sew, but I lost the thread“, ‘Already Free‘. This song has a classic sound, with Moody’s bright, crystal clear vocal chiming against a mellow, soothing bass sound. “There was no way out, so we found a path inside“, ‘Twilight‘. This delicately portrayed song takes us movingly through the phases of a relationship. From the initial passions to the ups and downs and work it can take to keep the flame burning with the beautiful line “When twilight calls, keep your heart pressed close to mine“.

Whilst it is almost impossible to choose a favourite in this album of sublime songs, one which does set itself apart is ‘The Spell of The Lilac Bloom‘. Written several years ago and whilst pregnant, the sensitivity of this song is quite literally spellbinding. It is performed as a duet with critically acclaimed Joey Landreth, who brings tender contrast to Moody’s extensive and wonderful register. A variety of instruments embellish the song, from bass to banjo, guitar, piano, percussion and accordion. Yet, the resulting sound is captivatingly delicate; such is the sympathetic technique from all contributors.

The scope of musicians contributing to the album as a whole really demonstrates Moody’s care and artistry. Some play on just one or two songs, blending well with others who play on several, delivering the high standard and continuity of style and sound that embodies Moody’s work.

Being ‘Seventeen‘ has long been a popular songwriting theme and one that Moody refers to as being therapeutic to write about. Here, Moody reminisces about a time of teenage innocence, writing, “I remember walking up your street / I’d try and time it just right so that we might meet“. Wistfully set to a gently rocking vibe. Nostalgia continues throughout the true story that is ‘Michigan‘. The layered and harmonious vocals work so well with the pedal steel and the enchanting tale. ‘The Way Lovers Move‘ immediately captivates with its sparse beginning. It may go on to be a little overly ‘synthy’, but there is no escaping the fact that it is another fabulously tender, ardently passionate song. Moody’s vocal is simply spinetingling.

In ‘Coyotes‘, the spirit is different as Moody takes us on a mysterious, eloquent exploration of what is real and what is imagined. Then, first written as a poem when returning to Canada after a long time away, ‘North Calling‘ continues with a very traditional yet equally contemporary sound and feel. The title track follows with a most visual account of Moody finally understanding what home is in what is the most magical of love songs:

And I’ve been afraid of changing / But the way that I feel about you / Makes me think that it is worth rearranging / The things that I thought that I knew” … “I’ve been a wanderer all of my life / It’s all the life that I know / I’ve never slowed down for anything much / But you had me right at ‘hello’.”

The album closes with ‘Comin’ round the Bend‘, a genuinely heavenly song. Written while grieving, Moody gently portrays hope, resilience, and new beginnings. Ultimately, while looking for the strength to carry on, this song will surely become the go-to song when celebrating the life of a loved one. Every word is pertinent. The elegant strings and acoustic guitars acknowledge a deep sense of loss whilst providing an alluring sense of hope. Utterly charming.


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Andy Davidson

Morning Viv. Just a thanks for highlighting this album. Yep Magnificent.


Lovely review, Viv, for one of my favourite artists. It really is a superb album.