The Sound Cafe
Jessica Rhaye & The Ramshackle Parade Offer Comfort From The Cold On Beaming Single 'Sunshine Baby'
By Eric Alper.
A beam of sunlight on a cold, bleak February afternoon was the inspiration for Jessica Rhaye & The Ramshackle Parade’s glorious, cascading new single “Sunshine Baby” – available now – from their forthcoming album of the same name.
Like putting your hands around a cup of tea, “Sunshine Baby” is full of comforting warmth, as Rhaye’s voice shimmies, soars, and meanders beautifully around the accompanying guitars, upright bass, drums, and piano. The song takes us through a loved one’s pain – “I can feel a storm is coming/ I can hear the rain falling down/ I can see your eyes are crying/ wishing that your day would turn around” – as the narrator searches her heart for a way to help turn it around. And then, like a stream of light shining through a winter window:
I could be your sunshine baby
I could put the blue back in your sky
we can set the night on fire
you be the spark and we'll shed some light
You would never know it through the listen, but the piano playing Rhaye contributes was something that actually took her out of her own comfort zone. All her previous songwriting had been done on an acoustic guitar, but she had recently bought a book called How To Write One Song by Jeff Tweedy, and so she was in an experimental headspace.
“Coincidently, at the same time I thought about writing this song, my husband and I purchased a piano/keyboard for our children so they could continue their piano lessons virtually during the height of the pandemic lockdown,” Rhaye recalls. “I would sit with them as their piano teacher so patiently took them through their lessons, and I picked up a thing or two about piano chords. So, I thought, ‘Well, I’ll give it a try.’”
Despite the fact this was the first time Rhaye had ever played piano on a recording, it worked out beautifully when it came to “Sunshine Baby.”
“Once we got settled in the studio, this song came together effortlessly. The drums brought a real folk/jazz vibe while the boys and I fell in comfortably like we had been playing it for years,” she said. “It was our goal to have me play along with the band on the piano as a scratch recording, but in the end, we kept the original piano track, as trying to re-record the piano after the fact didn’t have the original spark and feel.”
Sunshine Baby, scheduled for release in early 2023, will be Rhaye’s second album with her backing band the Ramshackle Parade. Their critically acclaimed 2019 album Just like a Woman - Songs of Bob Dylan is an engaging body of rollicking folk-rock interpretations of some of Dylan's classics, and it has garnered millions of views on YouTube, and showcased the band on a headlining tour in some of the premier venues throughout Canada before the pandemic put a hold on touring.
Jessica Rhaye is an East Coast Canadian fixture; her dynamic 22-year career has garnered critical acclaim, awards from Music New Brunswick, and nominations from Canadian Folk Music Award and East Coast Music Award. Her band, The Ramshackle Parade, includes Bill Preeper on electric and acoustic guitars, Sandy MacKay on bass, Chris Braydon on electric baritone guitar, and Clinton Charlton on drums and percussion.