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CATHERINE MACLELLAN —IF IT’S ALRIGHT WITH YOU –THE SONGS OF GENE MACLELLAN (True North Records)

 

www.catherinemaclellan.com

 

www.truenorthrecords.com

 

Canadian singer-songwriter Catherine MacLellan comes from good stock when it comes to someone of her trade. Her father, and someone who’s shadow she was in part under for the last two decades, Gene MacLellan (1938-1995) was better than simply good. Like those who settled the land many moons prior he too in was a pioneer. Though in his case it is that of a insightful songwriter. A true craftsman, his meticulous attributes have since been passed on to his daughter Catherine.  

 

MacLellan’s songs have been covered not only by numerous of his fellow countrymen but the world over. His two most recorded songs “Put Your Hand In The Hand”, “Snowbird” and “The Call” can still be heard today, sung in different quarters of the world. Apart from MacLellan’s additional insight into her father’s creations she is a natural when it comes to covering songs of depth, and quality. She is herself an exquisite vocalist. Her father’s songs could not be in better hands.

 

Recorded in a stripped down fashion greater emphasis is given to the lyrics on the Anne Murray worldwide hit “Snowbird”, and for that matter “Put Your Hand In The Hand” (J.P Cormier, harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, Dave Gunning, harmony vocals, acoustic guitar) may have seen more vibrant covers but has the former ever enjoyed such a measured and beautiful arrangement! It’s just MacLellan and her playing a Wurlitzer. That is the thing about the record, MacLellan has brought her own intimate feel to the material, and through the already mentioned attributes the impact of some of the songs is extraordinary. If you said to me he never wrote a finer song than the opening track and the first one he wrote “Pages Of Time” I would agree, immediately it was among his top five or better! What a beautiful country heart break song. Partnered by electric guitar, Wurlitzer, drums and bass it is a knockout. She continues on a roll too as you have the title cut “If It’s Alright With You” and semi-autobiographical “Thorn In My Shoe” and gentle duet with up-and-coming Prince Edward Island artist John Connolly “The Call”. Loaded in faultless vocal harmonies and gentle melody it ticks all the boxes.

 

Moving on through the 13-track collection you have a series of songs accompanied by a larger selection of players as she covers, with authority “Just Wanna Be Loved By You”, “Won’t Talk About Love” and on displaying his own wanderlust “Lonesome River” garners a moving, heartfelt sound as pedal steel (Thomas Webb) plays a part. It also sees plenty of action on jaunty barroom country tune “Face In The Mirror”, and with more space given to her work (and Gene’s lyric) “Bidin’ My Time” is given an easy as an old shoe fitting cover (two guitars, percussion and Catherine’s vocals). Finally, you have “Faces” that speaks of her father’s depression, and “Shilo Song”, the first song she ever sang (aged 18) of her father’s. On speaking about the song, performed simply (bass, Remi Arsenault; Chris Corrigan, acoustic guitar) she says he talks about loving us no matter what; but he could just as easily have been talking to himself, from a higher power. Maybe it is a little of both.  

 

Players on the record other than those listed above are Dale DesRoches (drums, bass, percussion, Sean Ferris (B3-organ), Jon Rehdar (Wurlitzer) and producer Chris Gauthier (electric, acoustic, baritone and hi-strung guitar). Footnote some of you could well have version of “Bidin’ My Time” among their record collection entitled “Just Biding My Time”.

 

                                                 Maurice Hope       

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