CATHERINE MacLELLAN – If It’s Alright With You: The Songs of Gene MacLellan (True North TND670)

AlrightThe name might not be familiar, but you should certainly be familiar with the late Gene MacLellan’s songs, if not as a performer himself (though he did make four albums), but as writer whose work has been covered by the likes of Loretta Lynn, Joan Baez and Elvis. One in particular should stand out, that being ‘Snowbird’, a huge international hit in 1970 for Anne Murray.

That now forms part of this tribute album by his daughter, herself a very successful artist in her native Canada, who, as Alice Mara recently did with her father Michael’s work, has recorded her interpretations of several of his songs. Her version is strikingly different to Murray’s, a slow, stripped down reading accompanied by Wurlitzer that captures its sense of resignation and loss as well as featuring the verse that only her father ever recorded.

In the track listing it’s followed by his most covered number, ‘Put Your Hand In The Hand’, a song Murray was the first to record although it’s probably best known via Elvis. Usually afforded a big gospel treatment, here’s it another pared down take with just MacLellan and harmony vocals an acoustic guitars courtesy J.P.Cormier and Dave Gunning.

Featuring producer Chris Gauthier on electric guitar, the tribute opens with ‘Pages Of Time’, a country number that was apparently the first song he ever wrote (‘Snowbird’ being the second), and embraces such numbers as the semi-autobiographical wanderlust of midtempo country rocking ‘Thorn In My Shoe’ with Thomas Webb on pedal steel, the lesser known but catchy country shuffling ‘Just Wanna Be Loved By You’ that draws comparisons to Dolly, the bluesy organ-backed ‘Won’t Talk About Love’ and slow waltzer ‘Lonesome River’.

Elsewhere she duets with John Connolly on the classic Canadian country of ‘The Call’, as is the fingerpicked ‘Bidin’ My Time’, ‘Face In The Mirror’ is pure beers and tears honky tonk and, with some throaty electric from Gauthier, ‘Faces’ is a moody, bluesy number born of the depression that would eventually lead MacLellan to commit suicide in 1995.

Accompanied by just bass and acoustic guitar, she closes with ‘Shilo Song’, one her father recorded with Murray and the first of his songs that his daughter, back when she was 18, ever sang live and you can hear the memories and love in her voice. It might not mean much to those unaware of her father’s legacy, but, an easy and melodious, inviting listening experience, it’s well worth sharing the love.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the CATHERINE MacLELLAN – If It’s Alright With You: The Songs of Gene MacLellan link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artist’s website: www.catherinemaclellan.com

‘If It’s Alright With You’:

RICHARD WOOD – A Change Of Reasons (GCP 098)

With over two decades behind him as a professional musician fiddle exponent Richard Wood is very much a ‘traditional’ performer. Although he’s Canadian his Scots roots are proudly on display in that clipped strathspey way so beloved of others like J Scott Skinner (a great showman himself) and Alasdair Fraser. As a showcase for his talents this double CD is a fine calling card featuring flashy fingered dexterity such as on his own composition “Use Your Imagination”. The title is dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the publication of ‘Anne Of Green Gables’ and captures the feeling of exuberance experienced by the youngster perfectly. So, here we have a ‘thinking man’ who treats his art with respect and not a little bravado when he needs to. To help him fulfil his goals, he is ably assisted by a group of musicians including J P Cormier and current partner in crime, guitarist Gordon Belsher. Featuring plenty of up-tempo sets with a pause for breath on the slower paced “Dean Brig O’ Edinburgh” before launching rocket like into the triplet provoked version of that old favourite “Trumpet Hornpipe” there is plenty to put a smile on the face of the sternest critic. http://www.rwood.ca/ PETE FYFE