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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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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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