Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Reviews:: Catherine MacLellan - Church Bell Blues

You may not be aware, but Halifax has some fantastic female singer-songwriters on the scene right now. Jill Barber, Jenn Grant, Rose Cousins, Erin Costello, and Meaghan Smith are a few of the names that come to mind (there are certainly others, please send any I missed), and you can certainly add Catherine MacLellan to that list. Catherine is originally from PEI, but now calls Halifax home when she isn't on the road. Her latest album, Church Bell Blues, was released to much acclaim on the east coast in 2006 (four PEI music awards, ECMA nomination), and in September it was re-released nationally by True North Records.

This is a good thing for you, me and the rest of Canada, as Church Bell Blues is really an excellent album. Jill Barber and Jenn Grant are the ladies I'm most familiar with from the names I mentioned earlier, and they have fairly similar vocal styles, kind of playful and vulnerable. Catherine's style is a bit more along the lines of the classic singer-songwriter tradition, and so it's certainly not surprising to see Joni Mitchell listed first in her list of influences. This is not to say that she doesn't have a beautiful voice, she certainly does. Both soft and pristine, it helps convey the range of emotions found on this album.

The poignant Dreams Dissolve opens the album with an honest look at the way we deal with lonliness. It's a fairly simple song with finger-picked guitar and some nice steel guitar for added emphasis, it makes a striking opening impression. Emily's Song, an up-tempo combination of guitar, mandolin, and brushed drums, is not only next, but also my favorite song on the album. Something you'll no doubt make a mental note of. It's about moving on after the end of a relationship (auto-biographical perhaps?), but there's such an authentic feeling of hope in Catherine's voice that you sense things will end on a positive note.

Catchy drums and strummed electric guitar provide the backdrop for Too Easy, which is kind of a folk-rock slacker anthem that many of today's 20 or 30 somethings can probably relate to. Long Way Home is a beautifully written song about taking the time to live in the moment. Simple, meaningful, lines like "the hours that we spent in between, they didn't mean what we wanted them to mean" are matched with a sing-along chorus to create a memorable song.

The timing of this album's re-release is very good, as it strikes me as a perfect fall album. It feels like it should be listened to while driving to a place you haven't been in quite some time, while gazing wistfully out the window looking at the brilliant fall leaves. Or perhaps some other less melodramatic fall scene that you can think of. Either way, it's a perfect album to put on when you're holing-up in the house now that the weather is turning cold (there's actually a song called Snow Day on the album, which is rather helpful in proving this point), so check out Church Bell Blues for yourself.

MP3:: Catherine MacLellan - Emily's Song

MP3:: Catherine MacLellan - The Long Way Home

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You can also catch Catherine this fall this month if you happen to live in any of these fortunate cities:

November 10 ˆ Liverpool, Astor Theatre (Music Nova Scotia Songwriters Circle)
November 13 ˆ Boston, Club Passim
November 14 ˆ New York, the Living Room
November 17 ˆ Doylestown (PA), the Puck
November 18 ˆ Philadelphia, World Live Café
November 24 ˆ Halifax, the Music Room (Bluebird North)
November 28 ˆ Hamilton, Sky Dragon Café
November 29 ˆ Toronto, the Music Gallery
November 30 ˆ Peterborough, the Spill Café
December 2 ˆ Wakefield, the Black Sheep Inn
December 14 ˆ Halifax, Bus Stop Theatre
December 20 ˆ Halifax, Casino Nova Scotia, Schooner Room
December 21 ˆ Charlottetown, the Arts Guild

Posted at 9:01 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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