Wake the kids, phone the neighbours, and cue up the Mull River Shuffle, Jimmy Rankin's back in town. The hit-making songdog has had it with living in Nashville, and has moved back to Nova Scotia. He's celebrating with this all-East Coast collection, brand-new songs with the feel and themes of the Maritimes. To top it off, it was made in downtown Dartmouth with Joel Plaskett producing, and a top-tier lineup of Atlantic Canada's best musicians.
What's not to like about that idea? And what's not to love about this album, certainly his best-ever solo collection, and some of the best songwriting he's done as well, and I'll stand on main street Mabou and shout Fare Thee Well Love at anybody who disagrees. It's loose like a kitchen party and just as lively, and features story-songs about good times and sad, with home at the core of it all. There are tall tales, such as Haul Away The Whale, basically a road trip around Cape Breton, while Down At The Shore could only come from an East Coast fishing village, where a storm's hit hard, "a real trap-smasher."
Plaskett was an inspired choice, a guy who knows both rock and folk, and he adds a vibrancy (and some choice harmonies) to Rankin's signature sound, steering him back home after some more mainstream country albums. The party really got going when the friends dropped by, local monsters such as J.P. Cormier (banjo, mandolin), Bill Stevenson (piano), Geoff Arsenault (drums), Hilda Chiasson (piano) and Ashley MacIsaac on fiddle, natch. Those last two join Rankin for a down-home, real Cape Breton medley of reels to close the album called Dirt n' Potatoes, done just like they used to make 'em, sitting around one mic and letting fly.