Published Sep 02, 2015The centrepiece of this second album by Vancouver-based songwriter Jenny Ritter is its third track, "Wolf Wife," a personal creation myth with a get-in-your head melody, set to an arrangement that is as gentle and spacious as it is evocative of life in BC's beautiful wild. The band leaves room here for Ritter's strummed banjo and deft, sweet voice, which is a good thing.
Ritter, who had a long tenure in Victoria's the Gruff before going solo, is joined here by Ryan Boeur, Adam Iredale-Gray and Zoe Guigeueno (members of Fish & Bird), along with Elise Boeur and the Deep Dark Woods' drummer and pedal steel player, Lucas Goetz. That's a full house of two fiddles, guitar, bass, drums and pedal steel, if you're counting. The band camped out and recorded at Iredale-Gray's family sheep farm/studio on Mayne Island, with Iredale-Gray producing the record.
Perhaps the bucolic setting rubbed off, or more likely it's Ritter's happy disposition (case in point "A History of Happiness"), but Raised By Wolves leaves an unwaveringly upbeat impression, despite Ritter saying she was dealing with darker themes on it, including the tension between being animal and human — all this, even with the presence of two slow, reflective (in the case of the last one, draggy) songs at the album's tail end.
The band folks out with an indie pop sensibility that works well for some of Ritter's songs, but on others, like "Been So Kind" gets a little too busy. One of the most effective moments is the quiet instrumental "Slide Mountain," followed by wintery and dramatic Americana toe-tapper "Turn Your Thoughts"; in very different ways, they both demonstrate that the band work together very well. (Fiddle Head)