Penny Black Music reviews ‘Moving East’

Reviewed By: Carl Bookstein

Jimmy Rankin’s latest album ‘Moving East’ speaks a universal language. It is about coming home, wherever home is. A true voice in Canadian music, he has returned from Nashville to Nova Scotia. But on ‘Moving East’ Rankin captures an evocative homecoming muse that can register with anyone, including with this writer’s own return east from Los Angeles to Detroit.

This album is appealing folk rock, telling true stories and bittersweet ballads.

These songs are often maritime tales, rooted in their rural place, specifically Cape Breton. They speak to Rankin’s move back to Nova Scotia after seven years living and working in Nashville. It is Rankin’s first album in four years.

Rankin is a well known Canadian songwriter with a long string of hits, both solo and for the Rankin Family.

The album’s thematic centrepiece ‘Been Away’ appears seven songs into the album, with singing about “holy ground, this parking lot.” “Been away way too long,” Rankin sings, “Sure miss this place/Feels so good to be home.” The lyric speaks to comfort and rings forever true.

Starting with a soft, yet steady guitar strum, the album opener ‘Loving You Never Gets Old’ finds Rankin singing about standing on the roadside, stealing a kiss: “I still love the girl that I met so many years ago.” A mandolin shimmers beautifully.
On ‘No More I’ll Go Roving’ Rankin is reflecting on his old rambling travelling days. “We’ll tell old stories/Sing about roving.” A banjo resonates.

‘Thin Ice’ is a true story song and a bittersweet ballad about a local man who lost his life falling through the ice. “Don’t go walking on thin ice/Told you once/I told you twice.”

‘Down at the Shore’ includes lyrics about the wind blowing and the kitchen window wide open. “Waiting for his boat to come in,” Rankin sings.

‘Turn That Boat Around’ is lovely, radiating warmth. “Long time gone, but nothing’s lost forgotten.” Jimmy Rankin has an earnest way of relating to his audience – he feels like a friend.

On ‘Highlander’ Rankin sings, “I came here from Scotland three lifetimes ago.” Bagpipes play evocatively into close.

‘Haul away the Whale’ is a charming maritime story song and the closer ‘Dirt ‘N Potatoes Cape Breton Fiddle Medley’ is all rich and resonant fiddle playing- a dance and a stomp.

On ‘Moving East’ Jimmy Rankin captures his homecoming so eloquently and in doing so he inspires and makes a difference.

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