Sheila MacDonald,
Tangle of Trees
(independent, 2014)

There's an intimate quality to the 12 tracks on this new album from Sheila MacDonald.

This sense of intimacy is enhanced by MacDonald's clear, pleasant voice as well as the repetition of personal names and the presentation of the "story," as though she is speaking particularly to the individual listener.

All the songs were written by MacDonald, except for her cover of Andrew Calhoun's "Peach Song."

On this album she continues to focus on mostly contemporary themes, offering poetic insights into the lives of ordinary people like "Joe The Mechanic," "Ben of the Boat" and "Felicia," or nature themes: "Butterfly," "White Birch" and the title track, "Tangle of Trees." All have a melancholy, haunting beauty that sticks with the listener even after the song is done playing.

MacDonald accompanies herself on guitar. She's backed by Raymond Gonzalez, her producer, on guitar, mandolin (on "Peach Song" and "Joe the Mechanic"), banjo (on "Porch Flowers"), piano and percussion, and Emerald Rae, violin, on several tracks.

Naming favorites on any album is a matter of personal taste, but I especially like "Halfway Home," "Ben of the Boat" and "Porch Flowers."

If you like contemporary folk music, this is an album you're sure to enjoy.

music review by
John Lindermuth

22 November 2014

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