‘Tis the season. While it’s a little early, Jess Moskaluke already has visions of sugar plums dancing in her head as the dates for her “Winter Wonderland” tour have been scheduled, and she’s dropped an early Christmas present in the form of her new record “Heartbreaker”. The album contains her latest three singles and is rounded out by a handful of dynamite new numbers destined for high-volume streams on digital music sites, including the song “Heartbreaker” which is already a Top 20 hit on Canadian country radio. For Jess, this was the obvious pick to be the title track for the album.
“I felt that song was something familiar that everyone could relate to since it was already out,” says Jess, who’s calling from her home in Rocanville, Saskatchewan, which is a long stone’s throw away from her birthplace of Langenburg. “There are a lot of different phases of love on this album, whether you’re breaking up, whether you’re already over a break-up, or whether you’re getting into a new relationship. I felt that “Heartbreaker” had that kind of overarching theme that ties all of the songs together. We also did something a little different with this record in terms of the physical copies. The video for “Heartbreaker” had three sets and themes that represented various time periods in a relationship, so we decided to release three different album graphics. They’re all the same songs but they’re kind of like a collector’s item, so you can choose which design you like the most or you can get all three of them.”
One of the new tracks, “Good Nights”, is surprisingly upbeat for a tune about a failed relationship, but the girl in the song prefers to recall the good nights as opposed to the bad goodbye. Jess co-wrote five of the album’s six tracks, and her songwriting partners on “Good Nights”, Cale Dodds and Corey Crowder, have been her go-to guys for a long time.
“Yeah, Cale and Corey and I have been writing together for 10 years,” she says. “Corey is my record producer and Cale is one of his best friends, and we’ve become our own little squad when we’re writing together. It’s nothing but fun and I think that always comes through in the songs we write. I have a lot of different writing teams and I know what those writers’ strengths are and try to match them to the type of song I’m working on. “Good Nights” is about the good memories you take from a previous relationship and when it comes to feel-good songs, Cale is an awesome choice. I’ve been in situations where there are a lot of not-so-great memories from past relationships, but once you’ve settled into either a new relationship or a new lifestyle, things can feel really good. When you’re comfortable and happy with where you’re at in life it’s a lot easier to look back and think about the good things and be a little more at peace.”
As well as being a hit-maker in Canada, having won the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Award for Female Artist Of The Year three times in a row, there are a number of other Jess Moskaluke hotspots around the globe. The song “Knock Off”, which is included on the new album, was a Top 10 hit in this country as well as Australia. Also, last month Jess and her MDM Record label mates, Tyler Joe Miller, Don Amero and Five Roses went on the cheekily named “Apologetically Canadian Tour” which touched down in England, Scotland and Ireland.
“The country music scene is just starting to develop over there,” Jess explains. “We’ve been releasing music there for a few years now and I think this was my third time overseas to play shows, but it was the first time I was able to bring my friends from the label and do a proper tour as opposed to just a show here and there. The fans are fully appreciative that the country music scene is small right now and they’re willing to support it in order to allow it to grow, which is fantastic. We had a great time.
“As far as Australia goes, it’s been some time since I’ve had the opportunity to get over there physically, but they have been so incredibly supportive through radio and on the charts, and just playing stuff and promoting it as soon as it comes out. The fans are amazing and patient, just waiting for us to return.”
Jess has always included some fiercely independent songs on her albums and on this record, she adds “Not What You Think” and “Go Get ‘Er” to that oeuvre. In the former song she goes back to her favourite watering hole where she runs into an old flame. But rather than making her weak in the knees, the moment gives her strength as she declares, “Baby you bailed, that ship’s sailed, but I ain’t about to sink”. She’s even more defiant on “Go Get ‘Er”, in which she pointedly tells the guy in the song that she’s not the type of girl he’s looking for. She makes no apologies for cussing, smoking and drinking, which sounds a little surprising coming from a small-town girl like Jess.
“Really? You must not know too many small-town girls,” she laughs. “I didn’t write that one but it just felt like a strong message. The longer I continue to release music, the harder it is to say something new and still be true to yourself and say something that you feel comfortable being heard. This song checked all of those boxes for me. When we got the demo it wasn’t perfectly polished and it was actually quite slow. It wasn’t ballad slow, but it felt like something I wanted to revamp. I wanted to be the voice behind the message about setting a standard for yourself. It was like if you’re looking for this specific person who will do these specific things, that’s totally fine. I’m not her, but go ahead and find her and I’ll be okay.”
Jess’s “Winter Wonderland Tour” kicks off on November 25 in Calgary and wraps up on December 17 in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Perhaps this will turn into an annual thing and Jess will become the Canadian version of Mariah Carey, who’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” has become a seasonal standard.
“I don’t know about that,” she chuckles. “We’ll see how the first one goes but I definitely am a Christmas fan. The only downside to it is not being home for quite as long during the holidays as I usually get to be. I put out a seasonal record a couple of years ago called “A Small Town Christmas” that contains many standards and we are adding a few more songs to revamp it in conjunction with the tour. The shows will definitely feature a lot of holiday music but it feels like it would be a long night without playing my own stuff, so it will be a combination of both.”
Other Country stuff:
Bailieboro Ontario’s Jade Eagleson, who co-wrote the song “Knock Off” on Jess Moskaluke’s EP, is back with his own new album “Do It Anyway”. Striking a perfect balance of modern and classic country, the 13-song collection explores the subjects of love, family and growth. The release comes off the heels of a monumental 2023 CCMA Awards weekend, seeing Jade crowned the top winner of the national broadcast. He took home the evening’s most coveted awards, Entertainer of the Year and Male Artist of the Year, both first-time wins for the country star.
Platinum-certified Alberta band High Valley has a new single called “Countin’ ‘Em Up”, a reminder to reflect on and be thankful for all the good in life. The single serves as the latest release from the ACM-Award nominated group’s forthcoming EP “Small Town Somethin’”. “This song comes from a place of pure honesty,” shares lead vocalist Brad Rempel. “Sometimes it’s hard not to take things for granted. But, on my best days, I take time to slow down and count all my blessings up.”
Breakout country singer-songwriter Josh Ross unveils his most vulnerable song to date, “Ain’t The One”, a painful story about moving on from love. “My own relationships inspire my ideas,” shares Josh. “I feel most comfortable just being honest in the writing room with what I want to say”. The track follows his previous platinum-certified single, “Trouble”, which landed his first #1 on Canadian country radio and went #1 on the Billboard Canada Country chart. At the 2023 CCMA Awards, Josh took home the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award. As he readies more new music to release in the coming months, he announced “The Trouble Tour”, kicking off with two special headline dates in Toronto and Vancouver, and both sold out during pre-sale.