In Review: Wendy Rule
Wendy Rule is a musical enchantress. She weaves vocal spells with her songwriting and choices of traditional songs. She is a full-throated, deeply resonant vocalist.
Rule performed 10 songs at the North Valley Library as part of AMP Concerts free series in association with the Friends of the Public Library.
Among the most notable songs were several atmospheric ones which embodied her personal strength and earth goddess nature. "Radiate," her final song, was the most powerful in the set and shifted the energy in the room. It was written for her son Ruben, now a young adult who is also a touring musician with two bands in Australia. The lyrics included these lines: "Your heart is true … and blessings are flowing through you."
Early in her set she introduced an old Welsh ballad, "John Riley," a classic folk song that she performed, a capella, to haunting, melodic perfection. Rule makes use of modulation and alternating her strong voice with a softer delivery, as she did on the fine song "Into the Trees." She sang: "A forest dark, a midnight magical, I took a walk, into the trees, to be with you, to see our dreams..,"—This song appears in a new Australian film, Boys in the Trees, that recently won best picture at the Austin Film Festival.
Rule has a highly engaging singing and storytelling style, connecting to the crowd through both anecdotes and a guitar-accompanied vocal performance. In "Winter," she sings, “l build a hearth of stone, and always a fire will be burning … and will fill all the shadows with light … When spirit calls my name, I’ll offer a song … Here by the fire, all I require is stillness."
Australian Wendy Rule, has Pagan leanings and is a musician with a purpose: “I love to help people connect to their own emotional world, and to trust it," she said in an interview with Weekly Alibi. “I hope to help people to honor their connection with nature and the world around them. And I like to inspire them to follow their own soul path."
Rule’s musical origins began with the fact that her father was a huge jazz fan. He introduced her to singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. So Rule became a jazz singer for some years before she began writing her own material. And she performed in musical theater after high school and through college.
Her songwriting process begins with a big emotion that needs to be expressed, or a big idea, such as those found in mythology. Then she takes a walk in nature, lets the process incubate and finds that the lyrics and melodies come through during her long walks. In that way, she opens up to what the universe is offering to her.
Her performing configurations vary from solo—as she did today—to pairing up with her husband Tim. For 20 years she has toured with cellist Rachel Samuel. She has also worked with a big band of up to seven pieces when touring at home in Australia. More recent influences include Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Björk, the Doors and world music.
The audience at the North Valley Library learned that Rule will be relocating with her husband to Taos as of this Winter. We welcome her back to the Land of Enchantment!
Rule has many CDs, is on You Tube and Instagram and keeps up active email correspondence with those who sign up for her mailing list. [email@example.com]
Douglas Cohen is a culture writer and essayist based in Corrales, New Mexico. Find his concert and music festival reviews at [link].