Rankin finds his happy place in Mu­sic City

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Jen Zoratti

HIS name may be syn­ony­mous with East Coast Celtic mu­sic thanks to the Rankin Fam­ily, but Jimmy Rankin is work­ing in a new — but just as rich — mu­si­cal tra­di­tion. For his sev­enth solo al­bum, the jus­tre­leased Back Road Par­adise, Rankin de­cided to go full-on coun­try — a sound he’d only flirted with on his last solo ef­fort, 2011’s For­get About the World. “For that one, I was us­ing more tra­di­tional coun­try in­stru­ments, like do­bro and pedal steel,” he says, on the line from a tour stop in Prince Al­bert, Sask. “A lot of the songs were call­ing for that. I grew up lis­ten­ing to a lot of coun­try mu­sic; it’s al­ways sort of been there.” Rankin, who calls Nashville home, found a pro­ducer, Bill Bell (Ja­son Mraz, Tom Cochrane), who was ex­cited about his vi­sion. “He was on the same page about go­ing full-tilt and mak­ing a pro­duced coun­try record. We didn’t want to make it generic; we wanted to make sure that there was still a lot of me on there. “We were also very con­scious about de­liv­er­ing sin­gle ma­te­rial, which was new for me,” he says. The re­sult is a tight, CMT-friendly collection of tunes that wouldn’t sound out of place on playlist that in­cluded, say, Keith Ur­ban and Ras­cal Flatts. Back Road Par­adise is pol­ished, but not at the ex­pense of per­son­al­ity. And Rankin is a dif­fer­ent kind of cow­boy; his twang is Nashville via Mabou, N.S. The multi-award win­ner is a pro­lific song­writer; he’ll have be­tween 30 and 40 songs head­ing into an al­bum. “I don’t do re­ally pol­ished demos,” he says. “If a pro­ducer can hear the song in that rough form, then I know it’s a good song.”

MARK MARYANOVICH

Rankin, who per­forms at the WECC tonight, says liv­ing in Nashville has en­er­gized him.

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