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Catherine MacLellan - Silhouette

  by Andy Cassidy

published: 1 / 8 / 2011

Catherine MacLellan - Silhouette
Label: True North Records
Format: CD


Sensual country/folk on fourth album from talented Canadian singer-songwriter, Catherine MacLellan

Those of a more cynical bent might suggest that Catherine MacLellan is playing safe with her blend of country and folk-rock. It is an already busy genre, going back to Iris Dement and Shania Twayne through to Alison Krauss and Mary Gauthier, and thus some might say that it is a proven medium, and therefore less of an artistic risk. I would say otherwise: in my opinion, to excel in such a crowded marketplace, one must have a true talent, and talent is something that Catherine MacLellan has in abundance. This is MacLellan’s fourth album, and it was largely recorded at a secluded cabin in remote Prince Edward Island. The cosy atmosphere of the cabin is one constant thread throughout the album – one can imagine the songs being played as a jam between friends in front of a roaring fire while the snow falls and the wind whistles down the chimney. Track three, the excellent 'Now and Then', conveys this mood, and lyrically is reminiscent of Neil Young. MacLellan sings of romance with a beauty and poetry so often missing from today’s chart-pulp: “You led me to the stairs/Where you cut my hair/One little strand at a time/In your hand” and “Read to me from the book of Paul/I can’t say I believe it all/I just want to hear your voice, ringing out,” particularly struck me. MacLellan comes from a musical family – her father, Gene MacLellan, wrote songs for, among others, Elvis, Joan Baez and Bing Crosby. It is one of her father’s songs that provides the highlight of this album, Catherine’s take on 'Snowbird', made famous by Elvis and Anne Murray. The version here is a sparsely produced affair, with a haunting pedal steel line and backing vocals by Jim Cuddy. The album ends with 'Chop That Wood', a slow, piano-driven number, which immediately made me think of Neil Young’s 'Birds or Soldier'. Despite the simplicity of the backing track, the melody is simply gorgeous, and MacLellan’s vocals are superb. I found 'Silhouette' hugely enjoyable, so much so that I’ve arranged tickets to see MacLellan when she tours the UK later this year. Her voice is sensual, and her lyrics are wonderfully crafted. The backing musicians are all extremely competent but never showy and leave plenty of space on the songs for MacLellan’s lead. Even if you hate country/folk, I think that there could well be something here for you, as in many ways MacLellan transcends genre. A lovely album, highly recommended.

Track Listing:-
1 Stealin'
2 Keep On Fighting
3 Now And Then
4 Eastern Girl
5 Keep My Eye On You
6 Lines On The Road
7 Black Crow
8 Sparrows
9 Old Tin Can
10 Trickle Down Rain
11 True Love
12 Same Way Again
13 Snowbird
14 Chop That Wood

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live reviews

CCA, Glasgow, 18/4/2011
Catherine MacLellan - CCA, Glasgow, 18/4/2011
In an oppressively hot CCA in Glasgow, Andy Cassidy finds Canadian singer-songwriter and folk artist Catherine MacLellan nevertheless to be on excellent form in a gig to promote 'Silhouette', her fourth solo album

digital downloads



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Following up her tribute to her father’s life and music, Canadian Catherine MacLellan releases fourteen new original songs; her first original music in six years
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