Kate MacLeod,
(Waterbug, 2009)

Kate MacLeod was named among the "Ten Acts to Watch" by editors of the MusicHound Folk Essential Album Guide. This release, her fifth studio recording, is a solid endorsement of that recommendation.

Recorded in Nashville with Grammy Award-winning musician Tim O'Brien as producer, the album features 12 tracks, all written by MacLeod, except "As Far as the Heart Can See," co-written by Kate and Robert K. Wolf, and "The Inner Man," a Jack Hardy composition.

In keeping with folk tradition, these are story-songs. But they are presented in a variety of musical styles, ranging from folk to pop and country. There's more than a little bow to country in this collection with its emphasis on love, loss and hope. A distinctly western theme is apparent in such tracks as "Riding the White Horse Home" (inspired by a novel of the same name by Teresa Jordan), "My Teton Home" and "Return to Rawlins."

Optimism is the theme in a number of the songs with the sense expressed nowhere more clearly than in the title track where she sings, "I have loved and lost before, but still believe in springtime. Everything is blooming, blooming, don't go."

She has a warm and poetic style in both her singing and playing. Though some of the songs are poignant, there's understated humor in unexpected places such as the chorus of "Return to Rawlins," where she speaks of friends missing "my good looks, my wit, and my charm" or in verses of "A Smile Worth a Million."

A performer, studio musician and teacher as well as composer, MacLeod is an artist who deserves a wider audience. You may not know her by name but you've most likely heard some of her songs on NPR and performed by other artists such as folk singer Molly O'Brien (Tim's sister) and the bluegrass band Loose Ties. She performs regularly on stage and at festivals across the U.S. and abroad.

This is a strong collection with back up from some talented friends. Kate is featured on vocals and acoustic guitar. She's backed by Tim O'Brien, harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo and fiddle; Darrell Scott, acoustic, electric and steel guitar, piano and pedal steel; Byron House, acoustic and electric bass; and Kenny Malone, percussion.

[ visit the artist online ]

review by
John R. Lindermuth

13 March 2010

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