Ruth Moody’s Changing Seasons
Ruth Moody drove ten hours to her gig at the Freight; nonetheless, she and her band — Adam Dobres on acoustic guitars, Adrian Dolan on fiddle, mandolin and mandola and Sam Howard on upright bass — were in high spirits. The day, amid their first tour in four months, was long, but they’d been easing back into life on the road. Moody and her bandmates traveled from home in Canada to Berkeley via Southern California, where they’d spent several days writing and rehearsing before heading to the Bay Area.
“We’ve decided we’d make it to California every January,” said the thrush voiced singer, who has weathered her share of cold winters living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. California was offering up a rainstorm the night of her Berkeley show, a condition she deemed “balmy.”
“There’s a whole lot of winter to write about [where I come from],” she noted, before playing “Make a Change,” from These Wilder things, on the piano, “but I wrote a fall song.”
Moody is both a delicate and strong presence, and her music, both sensitive in content and sensitively played, follows suit. Seasons and the natural world, love and the constant pull of the road, play a big part in her material, the once constant being change. She sings of being “brave enough to fall,” and “wise and beautiful trees,” and the cold outside, while her bandmates deftly traded solos, sometimes moving between instruments mid song. “One and Only” from The Garden ventured into folk rock territory, with Dobres adding some nice slide, and Springsteen’s “Dancing In the Dark” was slyly rearranged for mandolin, fiddle, acoustic guitar and string bass.
Moody has no shortage of material, having been been a member of the band she cofounded, The Waylin Jennys, for nearly a decade before launching a solo career in 2010 with the Juno-award nominated Garden. Her 2013 album, and second full-length, These Wilder Things, was likewise widely acclaimed (and featured vocal and guitar contributions from Mark Knopfler), but she’s not one to rest on her laurels. Her band’s Southern California sessions resulted in a half dozen new tunes, which she was eager to share with her Berkeley audience. Moody introduced one of the brand new songs, “Wanderer,” early in her first set, which would prove one of the high points of the night.“ Love is calling you home,” she sang, which like another another song she debuted later in the show, “Twilight,” was rife with the feeling of spring and new love.