‘In the midst of trials, there are blessings, you know?” As one of the founding members of roots darlings The Wailin’ Jennys, Cara Luft is familiar with that spectrum. Luft lived through the group’s swift ascension, over the course of two solid albums, from three pretty young ladies who sang and played sweetly together to what amounted to a taut cottage industry.
“It became very closed-minded what could be expressed in the group,” she remembers. ”It started as three people equally sharing and contributing. As it went on, there was less and less room to stray from the Jennys’ sound and image.”
In the topsy-turvy world of the music business, the better the band was doing, the less power the Winnipeg-based artist seemed to have over her days and her music. Her experience recalls a beautiful sweater that’s terribly itchy—you may only be a little uncomfortable when you pull it on, but after living in it a while you’re dying inside every minute it stays next to your skin.
“This is me, finally coming home to myself,” Luft says of The Light Fantastic, her first solo record since fleeing the Jennys in 2004, only a couple years after they formed. “My mom loves three-part harmony, but she said to me, ‘The Jennys’ sound is lots of icing, not a lot of cake. Cara—you’re cake. You have substance and grit.’”
Her cake is in evidence throughout Light, a sparkling offering that chronicles a dramatic arc from acrimonious split to redemption and renewal, dotted with prairie imagery and instrumentation.
-Mary Christa O'Keefe