Album Reviews

The Small Glories

Wondrous Traveler

Artist:     The Small Glories

Album:     Wondrous Traveler

Label:     TSG Music

Release Date:     06/03/2016

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A marriage made in Winnipeg, the Small Glories combine the talents of Cara Luft and JD Edwards. If Luft’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she was a founding member of country/folk sweethearts the Wailin’ Jennys. Edwards just might be her soul mate.

His gruff manner and down-home, substantive songwriting dovetail nicely with Luft’s spirited, if somewhat lighter and more refined, approach to music making, as their warm and lustrous debut LP Wondrous Traveler wanders down lovely back roads of lush, traditional instrumentation, homespun melodies and easy harmonies with a troubled mind and no particular place to go.

Belying the tender grace and gentle, rustic quietude of “Holding On,” “Something to Hold Onto” and “Fast Turning World” is the yearning, resilient honesty running through lyrical unease that comes to grips with uncertainty and desperation, love and hope. An incandescent, almost gospel-like glow emanates from “Home,” with its full choir of rich backing vocals, and an urgent, almost violent “Had I Paid” and a feverish “Time Wanders On” are bountiful harvests of lively picking, the wheeling, tastefully executed clawhammer banjo of Luft leading an acoustic hoedown.

Fleshed out with fiddle, piano, drums and other musical accompaniments throughout, the Small Glories’ sound is, by turns, engaging and introspective, even dark. On a whim, however, Wondrous Traveler can transform into a summery church picnic of unabashed joy, as it does in a ramshackle, celebratory “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key” that’s more cleansing and uplifting than Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg and Wilco ever imagined. Wondrous Traveler has that power.

– Peter Lindblad

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