Folk/roots powerhouse duo The Small Glories are Cara Luft & JD Edwards, a musical tour-de-force partnership from the Canadian Prairies. Thrown together purely by accident for an anniversary show at Winnipeg’s venerable West End Cultural Centre, The Small Glories could almost make you believe in fate. Luft, one of the original members of folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, and Edwards duplicate and reinforce each others’ many strengths and yet allow their distinct personalities to shine through their live shows. It’s not uncommon for listeners to find themselves laughing, dancing, crying, or caught up in a good ol’ fashioned sing-along. “We’re folk singers, we try to write stuff that people can relate to,” says Edwards, whose looming stage presence and penetrating eyes find him the yin to Luft’s petite, snort-laughing yang. The material of a Small Glories concert is welcoming in terms of subject, folk-pop melody and instrumentation — songs of love, loss, and environment, delivered with soaring, interwoven vocals on various combinations of stomping clawhammer banjo, guitar and harmonica. However, a Small Glories performance is really about what happens in-between the songs. “The feedback we get from a lot of audiences is that it’s not just about the music for them,” Luft says. “It’s the whole package.”
On record, The Small Glories take their musical synergy, honed from hundreds of shows together, and expand it into a new soundscape amplified by pounding drums and other textural embellishments which only reinforce the magic of Luft and Edwards’ innate chemistry — a chemistry labeled the “Lennon-McCartney syndrome” by Americana UK, writing, “Some things just work together… to witness a performance by The Small Glories is a rare opportunity to experience that indefinable quality that creates perfection.” The band’s debut album, 2016’s Wondrous Traveler, was also praised in Pitchfork by legendary American rock critic Greil Marcus, who wrote, “…in moments (The Small Glories) find the darkening chord change the best bluegrass — from the Stanley Brothers to the Be Good Tanyas — has always hidden in the sweet slide of the rhythm, the tiny shift where the person telling the story suddenly understands it.”
Their 2019 sophomore album, Assiniboine and The Red, led to the duo cleaning up at the 2020 Canadian Folk Music Awards, winning Album of the Year, Ensemble of the Year, and Vocal Group of the Year. They were also named 2019’s “Artist of the Year” by the International Folk Music Awards and were 2020 Juno nominees (Canada’s equivalent to the Grammys). And Paste Magazine selected them as one of the “Top 10 Folk Artists You Need to Know."
As heartwarming as they are hilarious, as finger-picking proficient as they are relatable, and as Canadian as, well... they are very Canadian, the Small Glories have been winning over audiences from Nashville to the Australian outback. Now it’s Muncie’s turn to experience this superb duo.