At the junction of two rivers, the Assiniboine and the Red, is the heart of Winnipeg, the capital city of Canadian province Manitoba. Winnipeg bluegrass duo The Small Glories, made up of banjo ace/original Wailin’ Jennys member Cara Luft and guitarist JD Edwards, feel so connected to that landmark—and to places all over Canada—they named their new record after it: Assiniboine & The Red is out June 28 on Compass Records. The news of the album arrives with its first single, “Oh My Love,” which you can hear first here at Paste. Listen down below.
The Small Glories, whom we named one of 10 new folk artists to know in 2019, play bluegrass with a distinctly northern edge. “A lot of the songs are about place and home,” Luft says. The album opener is simply called “Alberta,” while the closer is “Winnipeg.” “Oh My Love” is a reflection of longing, but it’s exceedingly bouncy, what Luft calls “the happiest sounding broken-hearted love song.” In much the same way that pop music often tells the saddest stories through upbeat melodies, roots music has a way of conveying ache to the sound of sunshine, and Luft and Edwards are careful keepers of that bittersweet light. “Oh my soul is wide open,” Luft sings over her gracious banjo-playing, “and my heart is breaking.” Luft and Edwards sound right at home together, and they may soon join duos like Mandolin Orange and Shovels & Rope among the ranks of Americana prestige.
Luft wrote part of “Oh My Love” on her own before enlisting Edwards and fellow Canadian folk artist Ashley Condon to help her finish it:
It’s a song I had started writing after falling in love with somebody thinking it was mutual and finding out it wasn’t. But I didn’t get very far with the lyrics because it was such a personal experience, and I was very grateful that JD [Edwards] and another Canadian friend of ours [Condon] were able to hop on board, and the three of us ended up writing the lyrics together.
Luft and Edwards are known in Americana circles for their animated live performances, which highlight not only their instrumental talents, but also their warm, chatty nature. They swap jokes and stories, and encourage everyone to sing along. “We had one guy at a show recently come up to us and he said, ‘I had to go to the bathroom so bad but I waited until you were singing because I didn’t want to miss any of the banter,’” Luft says through laughter.
Along with a percussionist and bassist, they recorded all the vocals for Assiniboine & The Red live, which Luft says was “key for capturing that energy of the live performance.”
“We’re hoping people feel like they’re on a little bit of a journey and the songs are stories unto themselves,” she says. “So there’s a little unconscious conversation we’re having with the listeners.”
Again, you can listen to “Oh My Love” below and keep scrolling for The Small Glories’ tour dates. Assiniboine & The Red is available for preorder right here.
The Small Glories Tour Dates:
04 – Lewis Center, Ohio @ Central Ohio Folk Festival
05 – Newport, Ky. @ Southgate House Revival
09 – Sellersville, Pa. @ Sellersville Theatre (open for The Black Lillies)
10 – Blairstown, N.J. @ Roy’s Hall
11 – Harrisburg, Pa. @ Susquehanna Folk Music Society
12 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Philadelphia Folksong Society Concerts
24 – Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada @ West End Cultural Centre
07-09 – Haine’s Junction, Yukon, Canada @ Kluane Bluegrass Festival
06 – Stony Brook, N.Y. @ Long Island Museum
07 – New York City, New York @ Joe’s Pub
09 – Middlebury, Vt. @ Middlebury Festival on the Green
10 – Saranac Lake, N.Y. @ Music on the Green
11 – Portsmouth, N.H. @ The Music Hall Loft
12 – Winston, Ore. @ Riverbend Live: The Small Glories & Red Molly
13 – Santa Monica, Calif. @ McCabes Guitar Shop
14 – Santa Barbara, Calif. @ Hound Dog House Concerts
19 – Perth, Ontario, Canada @ Stewart Park Music Festival
20-21 – London, Ontario, Canada @ Home County Music & Art Festival
26-28 – Canso, Nova Scotia, Canada @ Stan Rogers Folk Fest
02 – Kensington, Prince Edward Island, Canada @ Indian River Festival
03 – Clarendon, Ontario, Canada @ Blue Skies Music Festival
8-11 – Edmonton, Alberta @ Edmonton Folk Festival
16-17 – Lyons, Colo. @ The Folks Festival
18 – Grand Prairie, Alberta @ Bear Creek Folk Festival
24 – Green Lake, Wis. @ Thrasher Opera House
25 – Ontonagon, Mich. @ Porcupine Mountains Music Festival
30 – Whidbey Island, Wash. @ Oak Harbor Music Festival