Flyinshoes Review

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Sarah MacDougall: Across The Atlantic www.sarahmacdougall.com


Sarah%20MacDougall
Quantcast This album comes to us from Vancouver, not previously noted for internationally successful music - Vancouver conjures a significantly different mental image to Seattle, its close neighbour just across the American border. Strange, then, that this music from the shore of the Pacific should be called 'Across the Atlantic', but that reflects Ms MacDougall's split background, her young years having been divided between Sweden and Canada. Something has been made in the press of a Scandinavian folk background to her songs. That's as maybe; it strikes me that's just a useful critical/promotional peg to help her stand out from the crowd a bit. In fact there's not too much that's obscure or difficult going on here. Mostly it's a remarkably skilfully performed and produced album that should travel to pretty much anywhere that English is spoken or understood.
At its most upbeat, 'Across the Atlantic' has songs that do the Amy MacDonald thing: gloriously energetic, strongly rhythmic, driven along by crisp drumming and with the lyric absolutely at the service of a tuneful bounce that communicates itself instantaneously. 'Cry Wolf', for example, has halls full of people dancing, I'm sure, wherever she plays and it certainly has me dancing round the kitchen; however, the energy of the song belies the reflective, slightly anguished, lyric - not that you'd notice as you sing cheerfully along to the chorus. The album divides fairly evenly between these sort of numbers and much slower tunes with the space in them to indulge a bluer, more reflective mood. A couple of times, on 'I've Got Your Back' and 'Ramblin' ', this comes off as distinctly Lucinda Williams-ish which is due in no small part to Tim Tweeddale's steel guitar and dobro playing. It's also a tribute to the strength of Sarah's lyric and the emotional intensity of her singing. Her voice is the star instrument here, so strong, warm and authoritative with that folk music warble at times, like Joan Baez or even Buffy St. Marie.
The furthest she gets from a mainstream approach is on 'Crow's Lament' and ''Hundred Dollar Bills'; with their 2/4 time signatures (which does indeed evoke European folk music) and distinctly spooky lyrical references, as if Rennie Sparks had popped in with some ideas for a song or two. Different again is the closing song, 'Goodbye Julie' . Very quiet and reflective, the lyric is enigmatically inconsequential; sung in a wistful frame of mind at the end of the relationship, the question is - is this the end? The two people involved are not currently communicating but the feeling persists that neither has quite given up on the other for good. It's a nicely sophisticated and self-confident note on which to end a hugely impressive debut record.

John (Biscuits and Gravy) Davy http://flyinshoes.ning.com/profile/JohnDavy

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This site is the sister site to The House Concert Hub community and has been inherited in the main by kind donation of Shaun Belcher and Trailer Star.

It is the sum total of over ten years of tending a tender love of music by Shaun, a life time with Trailer Star and five or so years of an association with Rob Ellen from Medicine Music.

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December 2018
1
Malford Milligan
75 pts.
Life Will Humble You
Royal Family Records
JF,FB
2
JD McPherson
61 pts.
Socks
New West Records
CVL,DHO,MVP,MB
3
Rosanne Cash
50 pts.
She Remembers Everything
Blue Note Records
WR,BP,JSM,HB
4
Ad Vanderveen
45 pts.
I Was Hank William
Blue Rose Records
TK,LM,BM,JB
5
John Hiatt
44 pts.
The Eclipse Sessions
New West
FC
6
The Yearlings
41 pts.
Skywriting
Lonely Sounds Records
EZ
7
Tip Jar
40 pts.
Onward
Independent
FS
8
Nathan Bell
39 pts.
Loves Bones & Stars
Angry Stick Recording Co.
RB,SZ,PG
9
The Brother Brothers
38 pts.
Some People I Know
Compass Records
BK
10
Richard Dobson
30 pts.
I Hear Singing
Brambus Records
JS,NC
11
Steve Forbert
29 pts.
The Magic Tree
Blue Rose Music
PR
12
J.P. Harris
28 pts.
Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing
Free Dirt Records
TJ
13
The Bottle Rockets
24 pts.
Bit Logic
Bloodshot Records
GS,PKO
14
Rodney Crowell
23 pts.
Christmas Everywhere
New West
 
15
Christian Kjellvander
22 pts.
Wild Hxmans
Tapete
 
16
Erin Costelo
21 pts.
Sweet Marie
Compass Records
PJ
17
Colter Wall
20 pts.
Songs of the Plains
Young Mary's Record
 
18
The Hillbenders
19 pts.
The Hillbenders
Compass Records
FH
19
Eric Bibb
18 pts.
Global Griot
Stony Plain
 
 
Karine Polwart
18 pts.
Laws of Motion
Hudson Records
HH,KG
21
Carson McHone
17 pts.
Carousel
Nine Mile Records
 
 
Malcolm Holcombe
17 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
MF
23
Ben Bedford
16 pts.
The Hermit's Spyglass
Cavalier Recordings
SP
 
Craig Moreau
16 pts.
A Different Kind Of Train
Independent
MP
 
David Olney
16 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music

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