Jillian Rae: Wanderlust EP

Paul Whyte

It’s been a few years since Jillian Rae has released her debut album, “Heartbeat.” The title track did pretty well on Youtube with over 20,000 views. Since that album’s release, this versatile fiddle player and songwriter out of the Iron Range has played regularly both on tour and locally. While she keeps herself busy performing and teaching at her music school, The Music Lab down in Minneapolis, she felt it was necessary to release some new music. Enter her new album “Wanderlust” that will be available for digital download, Friday, August 25.

First off, it should be known that Rae is the real deal. Her level of performance on stage and in the studio is professional but also fun and engaging. A few bands she works with aside from her personal project include: Corpse Reviver, Steve Kaul & The Brass Kings, Ilika Ward & the Moonlight Raiders, The Fiddle Heirs, and Adam Levy. I personally first saw her with Two Many Banjos some years ago. She does occasionally play with the Grammy Awards winning Okee Dokee Brother as well.

Jillian was nice enough to give me a link to her new EP when I happened to see her visiting from Minneapolis in downtown Duluth the other day. “Wanderlust” is short and sweet. Of course I think she’s getting due for another full length album, this might be enough to get some fans by until that happens.

This album is pretty carefree and laid back. The opening track, “Wanderlust,” is a good example of what Jillian tends to do best, write country pop songs that accent her fiddle and solid vocals. Tracks such as “Breathe” slow down to a peaceful folk waltz. The brush of the snare and resolute acoustic guitar hold down the foundation for this honest and soothing song.

I was happy but not surprised to see the track “Nebraska” on this EP. The song was originally written by local musician Ashley Northy, who Jillian is friends with. I’m pretty familiar with it because she used to play it fairly often at my open mic at Thirsty Pagan a good time ago. I really like this song because it has an undeniable hook, “Nebraska, take me away,” and is structured enough to really hold its own. There are times when one has to say, “this is just a good song.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest country fan ever, but with the way Jillian lays out this material, it’s fair to say that it’s well done and anyone familiar with her album “Heartbeat,” or just a fan of contemporary country music, should be able to enjoy what’s happening with this new EP. On one final note, the album’s cover art is amazing, I wasn’t able to contact Jillian in time to ask who the artist was, but well done. Expect to see some album release shows in the near future as this comes out on CD and vinyl. Visit jillianraemusic.com for more information.


Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

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