I get my fair share of country music passing beneath my nose, I would guess fifty percent of the new music I get to hear is country-based, be it country, country and western or that blurry genre of Americana. Obviously, some is good, some is bad. Some decides to tread the tried and tested formula of traditional instruments and song subjects while others attempt the push the boundary and open new avenues to explore.
I would put Catherine MacLellan’s 2019 release ‘Coyote’ in the former, but it’s done so convincingly that no one is going to argue with her.
I tend to lean towards Canadian singer songwriters more so than their American counterparts, I find Canadian musicians embrace and acknowledge the presence of the ocean more, which is clear on some of the songs on the album, ‘The Tempest’ employs instruments associated with the sea-faring community and could have been from the North East of England, let alone the East coast of Canada. The music here, although often very personal and intimate, is delivered with such command and understands that the understated can be as powerful as the loud and intrusive. MacLellan’s voice and character shines through, this is an artist comfortable and knowledgeable, drifting between genres but keeping the roots of the album in check.
It’s an album that you need to allow to get under your skin, on first listen it might appear formulaic but on repeat listens it brings you under its spell, it’s an album of escapism and a road trip all of its own. ‘Emmet’s Song’ brings fiddle and bodhran to the party, underlining the ability to draw from different genres. While songs like ‘Come Back In’ and ‘All The Way In’ have that late night, low light feel to them, the songs to share with a loved one or a slow dance around the living room while the whiskey warms and the record turns.
Beautifully written and self-produced by MacLellan, it’s a quietly captivating album, low on thunder and drama but high on class and expression.