Red Moon Road's Gospel-Inflected Canadian Roots


Submitted by -HearthMusic Fri, 11/13/2015 - 8:26 am

A rather literal translation of the phrase “break a leg” befell singer Sheena Rattai of Canadian roots trio Red Moon Road in 2012, forcing a tour cancellation and months of bedside songwriting. Though an unlucky break from a Frisbee-catch-gone-horribly-wrong, it brought their new album Sorrows and Glories to its explosive fruition. Sorrows and Glories is spun from the band’s diverse life-blood, an impressive and eccentric blend of swinging rhythmic bounce, beautiful vocals reminiscent of Sara Bareilles pop influences and Aretha Franklin soul, and songwriting that taps a deep vein of Canadiana. Two years since the accident and finally sans crutches, Winnipeg roots/folk-darlings Red Moon Road’s new album is influenced especially by the ups and downs of the healing experience. Songs like “Beauty in these Broken Bones” and “I’ll Bend But I Won’t Break” capture the process of recovery, while also meditating on the gifts this can bring. With such a depth in narrative, Sorrows and Glories is a continuation of the band’s signature storytelling ability, while also a step in a captivating, fresh direction.

Red Moon Road are the roots music linchpins of Winnipeg, their hometown and the cultural cradle of Canada. Diverse in its cultural populations, landscapes, and arts scene, Winnipeg is the perfect starting place for Red Moon Road; a group also known for collaging influences like jazz, folk, roots and country to make up their eclectic sound. All three members of Red Moon Road are multi-instrumentalists; Sheena Rattai sings while drumming on the snare, Daniel Jordan picks guitar and kicks the bass drum, Daniel Péloquin-Hopfner plucks banjo, mandolin, and pedal steel, and adds nuanced vocal harmony. Collectively their sound is remarkably full, much more like a band than a trio, while their songs channel Manitoban country, traditional folk storytelling, and gospel-inflected Americana.

In collaboration with the impeccable ears and deft fingers of multiple Juno recipient David Travers-Smith (Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth Moody), and legendary producer Murray Pulver (Doc Walker, Steve Bell), the trio delivers some of their finest songwriting to date. From the Beatle-esque pop of “Words of the Walls,” that muses on Winnipeg’s iconic Roslyn Apartment Complex, to “Sophie Blanchard 1778,” which relates the tragic story of an 18th century French aeronaut, to the full-on spiritual “Beauty in these Broken Bones,” Sorrows and Glories is an artful 11-song display of Red Moon Road’s original, diverse and innovative musical narratives. Each song offers a window into a different Canadian perspective, and though the music is informed by a wide range of North American roots, Red Moon Road’s album is an intimate and joyful look at their own journey, a path that may have been rough at one point, but is wide open to new horizons now.