Catherine MacLellan: Silhouette

~ Monday, 26 September 2011
MacLellan won herself a small army of admirers with her Water In The Ground album and she had a lot to live up to being the daughter of the late great songwriter Gene MacLellan. Her new album Silhouette has already had the critics in a lather with its 'rough around the edges feel' which lends a kind of sympathetic warmth to the album. This wasn't a record that grabbed me on the first few plays but worked on me over a period of time. There is a strong commercial edge to her songs, in a similar vain to Sheryl Crow or Alannis Morrisette, that should see her expand her following to within Europe.

The formula of poppy Americana is evident from the first track, Stealin', and is carried on throughout the album. MacLellan's plaintive vocals can at times become monotone as with the deadbeat Keep On Fighting but then emotionally expressive as on Keep My Eye On You. With Keep On Fighting it is as if she doesn't believe in the song and as a consequence, neither do I. When she finds her mojo though, she really does prove herself to be capable of making music that truly connects as with Lines On The Road, a blissful and haunting song that perfectly suits her voice and is a real stand out.

The country balladry of Trickle Down Rain is also a song that gives MacLellan a perfect platform to show her talents with shades of Nanci Griffith ringing in my ears. She also pays a touching tribute to her father in the shape of one of his most famous song, Snowbird. With the likes of Elvis and Anne Murray having recorded versions of the song, MacLellan easily puts her stamp on it and the stripped back arrangement works beautifully. The album closes on my personal favourite, Chop That Wood. The simplicity of the song is laid bare with just piano and vocals and is passionate, moving and evocative. Proof if needed that MacLellan is a formidable songwriting talent.

Silhouette is never going to be one of my favourite albums as it is just a bit to disjointed and commercial for my tastes but there are a few gems like Chop That Wood and Lines In The Road that alone make this an album worth having.

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