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On Harvest Highway, Jimmy Rankin hits the road again, time traveling and traversing far-flung destinations—along with his native Nova Scotia, of course—through his singular brand of East Coast folk-rock. The Cape Breton icon’s eighth solo album is rich in the narrative songwriting traditions that Rankin has been honing for nearly his whole life, filled with crackling yarns and poignant chronicles about feverish marriages in Thunder Bay, unmoored Newfoundlanders, lovers on the run, and fallen soldiers in France. Bookended by songs about home, the collection roams a trajectory not so different from Rankin’s life, with narrators who relish in adventure while also feeling a yearning for the homeland from which they first pulled up their roots.
Harvest Highway, finds Rankin at the height of his songwriting powers. “I’ve been working toward this album for my entire career,” he says. And what a long and storied career it’s been... In 2013, CBC listeners voted Rankin’s 1994 JUNO Award-winning single “Fare Thee Well Love”, the #1 East Coast song of all time, and in 2020, it was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. Through a solo career that sprang from his start as a member of the internationally-beloved Rankin Family, the pride of Cape Breton has won SOCAN Songwriter Awards, East Coast Music Awards, Canadian Country Music Awards, and multiple JUNOs. If you live outside the Maritimes and know the sound of East Coast folk music, it’s likely thanks to Jimmy Rankin.