Sing Out Magazine
In 2004, just as the Wailin’ Jennys were hitting their stride and beginning to hit their stride and beginning to make their mark on the international folk circuit, Cara Luft, one of the founding members of the Winnipeg-based trio walked away from the group to return to her solo career as a singer songwriter. She’d released an album of her own prior to joining the Jennys and has now followed up that solo effort with The Light Fantastic, a collection of mostly-original material that’s reminiscent of Sandy Denny-era Fairport Convention with its folk-rock arrangements and occasional excursions into highly arranged traditional songs.
Luft’s approach becomes clearing the album opener, “There’s a Train.” The song begins with a pretty acoustic-sounding arrangement in the opening verses. However, by song’s end, the tune was like an engine barrelling down the track in full throttle rock n’ roll mode. Listening to the song, it’s easy to assume that it might be her declaration of independence from the Wailin’ Jennys. The prettiest song on the album is “Wilcox,” in which she seems to be seeking refuge in a quiet prairie town as November drifts into the Christmas season.
I like much of Luft’s original material, but I was especially taken with her very interesting arrangements of two traditional songs: “Black Water Slide” and “Lord Roslyn’s Daughter.””Black Water Slide” has a trance-like arrangement that features Luft singing on top of her deftly-played guitar figures, Hugh McMillian’s bass lines and tabla patterns laid down by Ravi Singh. “Lord Rosalyn’s Daughter,” is the most compelling variation of “Captain Wedderburns’s Courtship” that I’ve heard since Ian and Sylvia reworked it as “Captain Woodstock’s Courtship” in the 1960s.