Kate MacLeod & Kat Eggleston,
Lost & Found
(Waterbug, 2011)

Lost & Found opens with Kate MacLeod's "Sometimes a Sound," which so much resembles an early Joni Mitchell song that if you don't check the credits, you may think that's what you're hearing. Not much that follows treads that pathway, though in the mid-1960s Mitchell was thought of -- mistakenly -- as a folk singer. Lost & Found, on the other hand, is very much a folk album, and of an old-fashioned, mid-1960s sort, so much so that on initial, inattentive hearing I missed the depth of its grace and subtlety.

It helps that fiddler and guitarist MacLeod, who lives in Utah, and guitarist Kat Eggleston, who traded Chicago for Seattle, have been around for a while, and that robust talent they brought to the game has only expanded with time and experience. Lost & Found has a confidence and maturity given voice in a strong musicality untainted by false steps, bombast or exhibitionism.

The two mix originals, covers and traditionals, the last of these mostly with Scottish and Irish accents. Even one of MacLeod's originals, "Lark in the Morning," borrows the title of a traditional song from the British Isles. She and Eggleston turn in an unusually affecting reading of Robert Burns's ode to himself, "Rantin' Rovin' Robin" -- has self-adoration ever been so likable? -- and a couple of sets of stately fiddle airs.

I am pleased to renew my acquaintance with Jean Ritchie's "None but One," dedicated to the proposition that all who are human belong to the same race. That song hadn't been in my ears in decades, and its message feels more urgent than ever. How easy it is to forget what an extraordinary songwriter Ritchie is, and with what delight I am reminded of that fact from time to time. She certainly couldn't ask for more sympathetic interpreters than MacLeod and Eggleston.

This is the sort of recording that, in common with other worthwhile ones, may not leap out at you immediately. Around the second or third listening -- or perhaps the first careful one -- it will start to feel like something you'll want around for the duration. Songs like Eggleston's "Africa" and MacLeod's "My Forsaken Love" will want to be heard again. I speak for myself, of course. You will find your own. There are plenty from which to choose.

music review by
Jerome Clark

3 September 2011

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