Jimmy Rankin

Jimmy Rankin


As an artist who was the songwriter of 6 time Juno Winning, multi-platinum selling Rankin Family and four time Songwriter Of The Year Jimmy Rankin’s canvas isn't restricted to an easel and a few tubes of paint. It's an aural canvas framed by experience, a brilliantly composed masterstroke of music.



Like any painter worth his salt, Jimmy Rankin knows how to make a lasting impression.

Except that, as a man who has won four SOCAN-sponsored ECMA-and-Juno Songwriter Of The Year Awards for the chart-topping "Fare Thee Well Love," "You Feel The Same Way Too," "Followed Her Around" and "Midnight Angel," his canvas isn't restricted to an easel and a few tubes of paint.

It's framed by experience -- and depending on how the Cape Breton native channels his idea -- a masterstroke of an alt. country, adult-contemporary or rock-flavoured arrangement depicting his life, emotions and observations with resonating finesse.

Just hand him a guitar -- preferably an acoustic Gibson; give him a little think-time and watch Jimmy -- no, hear him -- weave some aural magic.

"To me, writing a song is almost like creating a painting," notes Jimmy, who offers 13 picture-perfect portraits of sonic splendour on his new, self-titled album, Jimmy Rankin.

"You build it and colour it until all of the images blend together as one complete portrait that tells some kind of story."

Whether it's the potent roots-scented shuffle of "Stranded;" the guilt-tinged poignancy of the album's first single, "Slipping Away;" the urgent fiddle-driven desperation of "Got To Leave Louisiana;" the romantic resignation of "Hopeless" or the euphoric optimism of "When I Rise," the musical tales woven on Colin Linden-produced Jimmy Rankin are borne from the days he's spent living, traveling and soaking in the planet since the release of 2003's Handmade.

"Over the past three years I've taken a lot of my inspiration from the world I see around me," says Jimmy, who recorded the album in Nashville at the Rendering Plant and at Pinhead Recorders in Toronto during a busy year that also included a World Vision trip to Nicaragua and a recording reunion of The Rankins.

"Some of my songs are autobiographical. While others, although written in the first person, are about a story or something I heard. I do a lot of touring, traveling and reading and I think my songs reflect that. I'm always on the lookout for a good story and definitely tune into other peoples' experience in the world."

And for the first time, Jimmy is also enlisting a generous portion of observation from outside his own perspective: half the songs on Jimmy Rankin involve an impressive list of collaborators ranging from Gordie Sampson and Tom Wilson to Jon Randall and Craig Northey.

"Essentially I wanted to work with other people," Jimmy explains, noting that his first two albums, 2001's song dog and Handmade, were predominantly solitary songwriting efforts.

"I've done some co-writing in my career, but never to the extent that I have for this album. It's nice to be able to bounce ideas around, pick someone else's brain and see what sticks. When you work with other writers, you learn tricks of the trade."

Jimmy Rankin is a contrast from its predecessors in other ways as well.

"It's less harmony-driven," explains Jimmy. "There's mostly two-part on this record, which is just a different style for me. It's also a lot looser and a lot rougher than my other records."

The loss of some of that varnish can be attributed to producer Linden's approach of live studio takes; employing crackerjack musicians such as keyboardist Richard Bell, percussionist Sam Bacco and Willie Nelson harmonica player Mickey Raphael -- as well as the noted guitarist producer himself -- and anchoring them around two solid rhythm sections: Toronto drummer Gary Craig and John Prine bassist David Jacques, and Mississippi -based Buddy Miller stick-handler Bryan Owings and Bruce Springsteen bassist Garry Tallent.

"I like Colin's approach to recording," says Jimmy. "This album feels more comfortable and natural to me in the way that it's very much a live recording and band vibe. I've tried to capture that essence on the other records, but this one's the most organic."

Jimmy says playing with such a stellar group of musicians raised his own lofty standards of performance.

"I play an acoustic guitar and I kind of drive the band and set the tempo and the energy of the song," he explains. "Playing with great players just ups the performance ante and enhances everything sonically. I like the idea of collaborating with musicians and really letting them shine."

Most important, perhaps, within the pensively reflective strains of "501 Queen;" the reassuring romanticism of' "Shot In The Dark," and the restless realization behind "Drifting Too Far From Shore," is the notion of just how far Jimmy has progressed as a songwriter.

While adult contemporary and country radio stations all over Canada have readily embraced such memorable hits as "Followed Her Around," "Butterfly," "California Dreamer" and "Morning Bound Train," the truth is that Jimmy Rankin didn't choose songwriting as an eventual career path -- it chose him.

"Initially I had no intention of becomi


Edge of Day, relesed May 8, 2007

Handmade, Released Sept 2, 2003

Song Dog, Released 2000