Though Cara Luft, a founding member of the Wailin' Jennys, was replaced by Annabelle Chvostek, the band's tight harmonies and pretty folk songs haven't changed at all on their second album, Firecracker. In fact, they've even gotten better. Chvostek's voice is seductively low and versatile, and it blends well with and adds a lot of strength and depth to the higher ranges that Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta provide. All three Jennys are also great songwriters, and everything on the album is well done, with thoughtful reflective lyrics about love and friendship and death, the cold autumn wind of the Canadian prairie blowing through the record, shaping and influencing the mandolin, the banjo, the acoustic guitar, the violin, the National Steel. It's music with a dark, sweet edge, like it understands the pain in the world but still chooses to focus on what's good instead. "Swallow," though in its attempt to maintain rhythm and rhyme the lyrics can occasionally sound a little corny ("You got me, arrow shot me/Now come connect the dot me"), lilts along like the bird itself as it explores love's transience, while "Avila" is simple and pretty, with a delicate chorus of "O sweet peace never have you fallen/never have you fallen upon this town," sung in three-part harmony, that sense of longing lodged between the notes of a slow, aching electric guitar solo that winds its way through the song. A similar feeling is also apparent in "Glory Bound," manifested as a desire for a reprieve from life's hardships. It's not morbid, it's simply sad and honest in that uplifting way that only country and folk music can be. There is a melancholy that lies within many of the Wailin' Jennys' songs, but there's still an overwhelming sense of hope and happiness that is even stronger, and makes Firecracker a really great, uncontrived album.
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown