Jenny Whiteley has been knocking down Juno awards in Canada with nearly every outing. That doesn't always turn heads south of the 49th parallel, but in this case it ought to. If Whiteley were living closer to Austin than Toronto, she'd be a big star by now. Whiteley nourished her twang in the band Heartbreak Hill before going solo with a mix of country, folk and blues that seems in the same league as fellow Canadians Sarah Harmer and the Be Good Tanyas.
The new album, her fourth, is a tour of the human heart, from giddy first lust, to the glow of budding love, to betrayal, loss and loneliness, although not necessarily in that order. "Oh misery/What's going to become of me?" she sings in the chunking bluegrassy opnere, "Raining in My Heart."
As finely observed and written as these songs are, and as wonderful as the band is, along with guest shots from stalwarts like Tim O'Brian, it is Whiteley's terrific voice that carries the real weight here. It's a fine, clear instrument, as capable of aching sorrow as soaring rapture. The perfect country voice. When she sings, "Lonely, lonely, never alone, but lonely," over a Hammond B3 in "Day Without Words," you believe her.