By Stevie Connor. Photo Credit: Naomi Peters. Left To Right: Sandy MacKay, Chris Braydon, Jessica Rhaye, Bill Preeper, Clinton Charlton.
New Brunswick group Jessica Rhaye and The Ramshackle Parade announce their Fall 2023 tour in support of their recent album Sunshine Baby, released on May 5, 2023. The tour will kick off in Charlottetown, PEI on September 28th and continue through New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario, including stops at London's Aeolian Hall, and Hamilton's Mills Hardware.
In conjunction with the tour announcement Jessica has unveiled another incredible video collaboration with Jordan Mattie for the single "I Feel Fine". Premiering on Americana Highways yesterday, "I Feel Fine" is a song that Jessica wrote in her early 20's - all about wanting to feel genuinely "fine" - and surrounding herself with the people that make her feel safe, confident, and loved. The video was filmed in Jessica’s basement rehearsal studio. "We had a lot of fun making this one," shares Rhaye. "We created a cool vibe in my basement, set up a bunch of colourful, flashing stage lights and a fog machine, wore some fun band T-shirts, and danced like no one was watching!"
Although New Brunswick-based singer/songwriter Jessica Rhaye is known for a sound that seamlessly incorporates folk, adult contemporary, and Americana styles, if listeners expected a stripped-down, acoustic-focused album, they were in for a surprise with this new one. The farther you get into the 11-song collection on Sunshine Baby, the more it seems to play out like a series of short films, vignettes full of vivid instrumental colours, gooseflesh-raising moments of vocal power, and, at times, heartbreaking intimacy. The album singles include the title track "Sunshine Baby", "Come A Little Closer", "I Won't Break", and "Snakes and Ladders" - all accompanied by visually compelling videos.
At times, she says, the whole process was exhausting: “So much time, energy, thought, and care went into this. Trying to navigate our families and work schedules and booking multiple recording sessions in two different provinces. That’s a challenge in itself. Throw in a pandemic, restrictions, and health issues, and it’s a big pot of crazy. But it was so worth it. When I listen to the record now, I forget about the stress and just feel so satisfied knowing the songs reached their full potential and life.”
That’s evident on every track on Sunshine Baby, from her playful intro song, "Sally" to the album’s closer, "Reaching Out to You" – a decidedly personal track and a perfect coda that leaves the listener with a sense of having just woken from a dream, or emerging from a period of challenge and struggle into a new, if uncertain, reality.
The collaboration with The Ramshackle Parade was critical to the album outcome, Rhaye says, crediting Bill Preeper, Sandy MacKay, guitarist Chris Braydon, drummers Clinton Charlton and Jordi Comstock, and producer/engineer Dale Murray for taking her music to a new level. “I love the big sound we created for the Just Like A Woman LP live performances, and we wanted our new recordings for Sunshine Baby to have that same energy, but we also wanted the sound to be “bigger and more layered,” she says, adding, “I had written about darkness, and I wasn’t afraid to confront it; to walk away from safety and light a fire.”
By going deep into the shadows, Rhaye was able to bring back new stories for Sunshine Baby that offer solace even while illuminating sorrow. It’s a truly remarkable record and, as importantly, one on which Rhaye’s reaching out to embrace a more expansive lyrical and musical universe that will undoubtedly fuel her music in the future.
Job done and then some - the result is a beautiful and powerful album - one that, while it explores elements of danger and darkness, telegraphs the joy and depth of connection Jessica Rhaye and The Ramshackle Parade have found in working together in equal measure. “We poured our hearts into these songs, lyrically and musically,” Rhaye concludes. “We all shared the same desire to make Sunshine Baby the best it could be, and I can’t wait for people to hear this album. I want everyone who hears it to feel the same energy we put into making it.”
Rhaye’s past albums have garnered nominations for the Canadian Folk, Music New Brunswick, and East Coast Music Awards, and have landed placements in television series, including CMT’s Unstable and CBC’s Heartland. As a two-time finalist in the Canada Music Week National Songwriting competition and finalist in the folk category of the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Rhaye has also gained acclaim as a uniquely talented songwriter. Over time she’s also co-written with a variety of well-known Canadian tunesmiths, including Royal Wood, Ken Tobias, and Ron Sexsmith, and has performed widely, appearing at premier venues like the National Arts Centre and Hugh’s Room and at events such as the Stan Rogers and Mariposa Folk Festivals, among many others.
Additionally, as a graphic artist, Rhaye has been honoured with an ECMA for Graphic Artist of the Year and Music NB’s Visual Artist of the Year for her work on both her own musical projects and for collaborations with other artists, including Christina Martin, Tomato/Tomato, Rachel Beck, and Matt Andersen.
FOLLOW JESSICA RHAYE & THE RAMSHACKLE PARADE