Music Review: Ruth Minnikin - The Minnikins' Photo Album

When I think of Nova Scotia's Ruth Minnikin, the word artist comes to mind. It's more than the usual usage of the word, in the general sense that all musicians are artists. Minnikin puts everything into her art, a creative soul who treats each song as an individual expression, each release as an exhibition of her latest works. There's love in the presentation, with the CD's in handmade packaging, individually created for you. This one comes in dark blue jean material, with an old 40's or 50's photo glued to the front, and hand-written credits inside.

ruth-minnikin-cover-photo-final-final-618x1024.jpg
Photo Album is a seven-song, 23-minute set, a mini-album or maxi-E.P., each number her own brand of haunting folk. The songs were written about her family; the stories came from her ancestry, family photographs & old letters. With her slightly off-kilter delivery, soft vocals and minor key melodies, we're never quite in the present. The feeling is more like looking at an old snapshot of mysterious people with a story we only get a bit of. But it's compelling, fascinating, like those interrupted dreams you can't quite remember, but wish so much you could.

All this is aided and abetted by a find cast of characters, some from her old band The Guthries, including Serge Samson on bass and Dale Murray on pedal steel. There's a rich colour scheme of instruments, including violin, french horn, bass clarinet, Wurlitzer and banjo. The main support, and even co-pilot duties fall to her brother Gabriel, to the extent that it's almost a duet album. He even takes the lead on his own song, the seafaring tragedy Marine Band.

That tune especially, and album closer Glory Glory, are the best examples of how the Minnikins work in and around the folk tradition. Marine Band has a classic connection to our nautical adventure music of the past, but with music and performance that is informed by modern technique. It's a time-shifting effect. Glory Glory liberally borrows the ancient hymn's words, but puts them in a campfire sing-along setting, as Ruth M. tells the true story of a family church built in P.E.I. Old, new, borrowed, and a blue cover. All carefully and lovingly made just for you.

more »

Latest East Coast Music Reviews

Tomato/Tomato top the awards nominations for Music NB
Tomato/Tomato top the awards nominations for Music NB
Sep 21, 1:15 PM

Saint John folk duo Tomato/Tomato lead the way in this year's nominations for Music New Brunswick awards. The husband-and-wife team has grabbed six nominations, including those for Album of the Year, Group Recording of the Year and Song of the... more »

 Hot Toddy reunion a Harvest highlight
Hot Toddy reunion a Harvest highlight
Sep 20, 6:05 PM

On stage at Fredericton's Playhouse on Saturday, the members of Hot Toddy had more to share than just music. Bass player Tom Easley had brought along a band tour journal that had been kept in the van from 2001-2003, full... more »

Samantha Martin brings exciting blues-gospel vocals to Harvest Fest
Samantha Martin brings exciting blues-gospel vocals to Harvest Fest
Sep 18, 3:58 PM

The Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival is well-known for introducing new, exciting acts to the East Coast that wouldn't normally tour in this area.  They might be from Los Angeles or New Orleans, or some of the best Canadian groups... more »

Steve Hill brings Juno-winning, one-man band to Harvest
Steve Hill brings Juno-winning, one-man band to Harvest
Sep 17, 3:58 PM

As the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival celebrates its 25th year, several favourite acts from the past have been invited back, including some that haven't been around for quite awhile. Even though he lives in Montreal, this year's Juno Award-winning... more »

EARTHBOUND TRIO launches new album at Harvest gig
EARTHBOUND TRIO launches new album at Harvest gig
Sep 16, 3:51 PM

How busy is Fredericton during Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival week? It's delaying some Federal government work, that's how busy. A friend of mine, a government employee from another city, e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago to say she... more »

Amy Helm continuing Dad Levon's legacy at Harvest fest
Amy Helm continuing Dad Levon's legacy at Harvest fest
Sep 15, 3:06 PM

It was a Harvest show that went down as a classic for the people crowding in the Blues tent in 2011. Levon Helm and his great big 13-piece band rolled into Fredericton for the jazz and blues festival, and stole... more »

View all reviews for September 2015 »

About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

Share this review