Canadiana Week: Catherine MacLellan

As I promised on Saturday… Today begins a week of posts dedicated to the growing number of talented Americana artists coming to us from north of the border. As these are Canadian artists playing what we in the States call Americana Music… I’m dubbing this “Canadiana Week.”

We start the week with an artist who has been quite active on the awards circuit lately… Catherine MacLellan. The Prince Edward Island native recently took home four trophies at the Music P.E.I. Awards (Songwriter, Female Vocalist, Folk Recording, and Album of the Year). Those regional awards came on the heels of Catherine being named Solo Artist of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards that recognize artists from all over the country.

I wrote about Catherine here once before, but the powers that be saw fit to have that post deleted due to a track from another artist I had featured in that post (I had full permission of the record label to post it… but that’s another tale). It’s high time then that I reinstate the music of Catherine MacLellan to this site.

We’ll start with her debut effort, the 2004 release Dark Dream Midnight. For the most part, this album is simply performed and produced with most songs being built around acoustic guitar strums and sparing accompaniment. This serves as the perfect backdrop to let Catherine’s vocals and songwriting shine through. As the album’s title may suggest, most of these songs revel in the melancholy… even the one I’m featuring here… the deceptively titled “Jubilee.”

When this album was first issued, it was only available through mail order directly from the artist. Due to the scarcity of the recording, Catherine has included it as a bonus disc along with physical copies of her latest release, Water in the Ground. The “Buy Album” link here goes to the new release.

Catherine MacLellan: Jubilee (Buy Album)

Catherine’s second album, Church Bell Blues was originally released in 2006 and was the album that really began to garner some attention. She won her first Music P.E.I. Awards (four, in fact) and was named “Critic’s Favorite New Discovery” by the Canadian music publication, Penguin Eggs Magazine. This is another gently produced album that focuses on Catherine’s voice, playing, and songwriting without letting anything get lost under busy production. It that respect, this album is a close cousin to Patty Griffn’s Living With Ghosts, in that a lot of these arrangements consist of little more than guitar and vocal.

Here’s Catherine sounding especially Patty-like on one called “Emily’s Song.”

Catherine MacLellan: Emily’s Song (Buy Album)

Finally, we come to Catherine’s newest effort, 2009’s Water in the Ground. Here we begin to see Catherine’s sound fleshed out a bit more on tracks like the jazz-folk of “Take a Break” and the bouncing melody of the title track. There’s a lightness present in places here that didn’t appear in her earlier works… although the dark dreams can creep in at times as well as evidenced in the album closing “Flowers On Your Grave.” This is Catherine’s most fully realized album to date, and I’m excited to see where she’ll go next.

Catherine MacLellan: Water in the Ground (Buy Album)

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