Silhouette is the highly anticipated new album from Catherine MacLellan. The record captures her best qualities effortlessly—stitching together elegantly woven songs with her memorable blend of heartfelt and powerfully introspective lyrics and catchy melodies.
Recorded largely at a secluded cabin in rural Prince Edward Island, MacLellan brought together a band of longtime friends and musical collaborators with producer David Baxter to craft the 14-track album that Canada’s Exclaim! Magazine has touted as being “a near-hour-long album devoid of filler…a testimony to MacLellan's ascent to greatness.” Indeed, the subtle yet steadfast strength of the album is undoubtedly the understated power of MacLellan’s songwriting and performance on the largely acoustic-driven songs.
Her sweet tones weft gracefully throughout pensive and internalized lyrics that ponder, in the most elegant terms, the most relatable of internal dilemmas—balancing work and family, love blooming and fading away, and evaluating one’s own personal strength. Throughout the 14 tracks on Silhouette, it’s felt that you’re listening to the voice of an every-woman with a gift for expressing with poise the most personal of internal conflicts.
A particularly sweet note on Silhoutette hits on the penultimate track “Snowbird”, a stripped down cover version the most lauded song ever written by her father Gene MacLellan, featuring Canadian icon Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo). It’s a meaningful acoustic tribute to the elder MacLellan’s songwriting legacy, and fan favourite re-imagined by Catherine in a whole new light.
MacLellan’s star has long been rising in North America. Voted Critics Favourite New Discovery by Penguin Eggs Magazine in 2008, her last record Water In The Ground reached out to expand her already loyal fan base as she toured in support of legendary artists including Bruce Cockburn in the United States and Steve Forbert in the UK, while also holding her own by showcasing in Boston, Berlin, Cannes, Memphis, New York, London, and Paris.
Her previous albums have collectively hit #1 on the iTunes Canada Roots charts, and been acclaimed by tastemakers at Maverick Magazine, fRoots, The Austin Chronicle, and Boston Globe.
Like the person in the room who demonstrates his or her commanding presence without announcing their arrival, Catherine MacLellan’s fine songwriting talent and accomplished performance draws her listeners in with little effort, and without need of any persuasion. Silhouette is a reminder that Catherine’s musicianship is unparalleled among performers of her generation.
Winner at the 2010 East Coast Music Awards:
Female Solo Recording of the Year
Folk Recording of the Year
Four time winner at the Music PEI Awards!
Songwriter of the Year: Catherine MacLellan - "Take a Break"
Female Vocalist of the Year: Catherine MacLellan
Album of the Year: Catherine MacLellan - Water in the Ground
Folk Recording of the Year: Catherine MacLellan - Water in the Ground
Winner for Solo Artist of the Year at 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards
#1 Roots Artist on iTunes Canada
PEI winner for CBC Radio 2 – Canadian Song Quest
Penguin Eggs – New Artist Discovery of the Year
Chris Gauthier - Guitars - Vocals
Silhouette - 2011
Water In The Ground - 2009
Church Bell Blues (True North Records) - 2007
Church Bell Blues - 2006
Dark Dream Midnight - 2004
Nemesis - The New Drifts - 2002
Keep On Fighting
Now And Then
Keep My Eye On You
Lines On The Road
Old Tin Can
Trickle Down Rain
Same Way Again
Chop That Wood
Water in the Ground by Catherine Maclellan
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May 14, 2009 Water in the Ground, the new CD from Maritime songstress Catherine Maclellan arrived...May 14, 2009
Water in the Ground, the new CD from Maritime songstress Catherine Maclellan arrived in my mailbox the same day as Bob Dylan’s Together through life. I’ve been listening to both albums almost non-stop for the last week, and while on the surface there couldn’t be two more different collections of songs, in the end they offer an interesting counterpoint to each other.
Where Dylan eviscerates a world of disappointment, slander and innuendo, Catherine Maclellan describes the universe through a prism of optimism and opportunity where life’s lessons make one richer, free of the unwelcome intrusion of cynicism. Dylan conjures a Hieronymous Bosch junkyard of car wrecks, desperate barflies and women from the wrong side of the tracks, while Maclellan dives and dances through the wonder of a gentle world. Dylan gasps through lost hope, cracked pavement and oily puddles that resonate a delirium tremens sheen as Maclellan describes wistful relationships, drying flowers and the wonders of the natural environment. There is no despair etched in the subtext of Maclellan’s songs as she glides unafraid through experiences that never threaten to cast her out of the reach of redemption. Maclellan’s is a music that greets her with eyes fully open. If Together Through Life explores a world where sleepless dawn comes too early, Water in the Ground is music with the curtains fully drawn, encouraging the daylight to come streaming in.
Water in The Ground is Catherine Maclellan’s third CD and is her most fully realized collection to date. The music itself is open, spacious and imbued with the kind of gentle swing that is reminiscent of early Rickie Jones before the damage set in and she plunged into the dense textures of the Ghostyhead era. Maclellan’s voice is strong, supple, wistful and clear throughout. Her phrasing displays an easy confidence and conviction that elevates her sincere yet often unremarkable lyrics. The sunny and light tone of the instrumentation is sympathetic and appropriate to the songs. There are no lengthy solos or excursions that suggest a dark side residing in the subtext of her melodies. Rather, Catherine Maclellan describes the concerns of a young person coming to terms with life, love and the pursuit of meaning. Hers is a world where people take well-deserved breaks after working hard in the outdoors. Love is easy and free and the consequences of a broken heart are not yet life-threatening.
Whether or not one enjoys Catherine Maclellan’s music depends on where one stands. As a person on the far side of forty, I found myself torn as I listened to Water in the Ground. The melodies Maclellan creates are beautiful and her voice is a joy to hear. She sounds pure, unaffected and free. From the jaunty groove of ‘take a break’ that opens the album, to ‘flowers on your grave’ the poignant remembrance that closes Water in the Ground, listeners are treated to a sincere unaffected voice who describes her unfolding life as she experiences it. Hers is a young spirit and the songs reflect her place and time perfectly. In this sense, her music reflects a world that has long passed me by and I often found it difficult to inhabit and relate to the experiences she describes – except for in a far off distant kind of way. I wanted to experience things with the same immediacy with which she describes them, but I often found her perspective out of my reach. Yet, something in Maclellan’s truthful, uplifting songs has cracked through my grizzled resolve – as much as I feel more affinity to the world Dylan describes in Together Through Life, not one of the tracks on that album has me humming or tapping my feet. Water in the Ground– on the other hand – has had me whistling, singing along and banging the dashboard every time I put it on. Maybe I just don’t know what’s good for me. Catherine Maclellan may just have the key for what ails us. Highly recommended for the young at heart and pure of spirit.
SONG SIRENS: WATCH OUT FEIST
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SONG SIRENS: WATCH OUT FEIST (GLOBE & MAIL) Catherine MacLellan Who she is: Prirnce Edward Isl...SONG SIRENS: WATCH OUT FEIST (GLOBE & MAIL)
Who she is: Prirnce Edward Island-raise, Halifax-based songstress. The memorable, mellow folk fare of her album Church Bell Blues was released internationally in 2009; her new Water In The Ground is due out March 3.
Influences: "So many, from Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, to Julie Doiron, Bonnie (Prince) Billy, M.Ward. I think Julie Doiron was probably one of my more important influences, I saw a strong songwriter from the Maritimes really doing her own thing, playing sad, mellow music."
Indispensable Tool: "Small little notebooks that fit into my back pocket or bag."
You might not know: She's the daughter of Gene MacLellan, the writer of the 1970's hits Snowbird (for Anne Murray) and Put Your Head in the Hand.
Critics Say: "Church Bell Blues is a perfect album to put on when you're holing up in the house now that the weather is turning cold."
She Says: "I think that is exactly true. Church Bell Blue is the kind of record that you could curl up on the couch and listen to. It will put babies to sleep, promise."
What's Next: An upcoming tour of Eastern Canada and Ontario starts in Halifax on March 4, with dates including Toronto's Hugh's Room on March 20.
On Tour - Catherine MacLellan
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Catherine MacLellan It is never easy for a budding young performer of singer-songwriter to follow...Catherine MacLellan
It is never easy for a budding young performer of singer-songwriter to follow in a famous parent’s footsteps. In recent years we’ve seen the likes of Eliza Gilkyson, Justin Townes Earle and Jubal Young all step out from the shadowns of their famous fathers. Joining that elite list is Catherine MacLellan, who tours the UK this November to promote CHURCH BELL BLUES, her second album.
As a budding young songwriter Catherine did not have to look far for inspiration and insight into the creative process. She’s the daughter of Canadian music legend, singer-songwriter Gene MacLellan, the writer of such huge international hit songs as Snowbird, an international hit for Anne Murray, and Put Your Hand in the Hand, recorded by Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, Donny Hathaway and Loretta Lynn among many others.
Growing up in a rich musical environment was conducive to Catherine pursuing a career in music. Her potential was first displayed in the group the New Drifts and then on her 2004 solo debut DARK DREAM MIDNIGHT, but CHURCH BELL BLUES ups the ante considerably. It is a sparse and intimate record, one that gently fuses folk and country strains with graceful ease. The disc is clearly focused on Catherine’s compelling voice and expressive acoustic guitar, and both are neatly framed by the emphatic production of longtime collaborator James Phillips.
‘He’s a guy I pretty much started playing music with when I started trying to do this for a living back in 2000,’ Catherine recalls. ‘We were musical partners in the New Drifts, and James helped on my first solo album. I think it is really important to be close to the people you’re working with and this is definitely a team effort.’ This dynamic duo arranged the songs together with Phillips adding fluent electric guitar and background vocals.
The Long Way Home typifies their musical kinship, via vocal harmonies and the lovely interplay of electric and acoustic guitar. ‘I love the sound of the two instruments together and James is such an amazing player,’ says Catherine.
CHURCH BELL BLUES was released independently on Canada’s East Coast last year but Catherine’s recent signing to True North Records brings the album and her talent to much wider exposure. ‘It’s great that this one is being given more life,’ says the Prince Edward Island-raised, now Halifax-based songstress. ‘I really respect Bernie [Finkelstein] and all the artists he’s signed, so I feel very lucky.’
It is Catherine’s voice that strikes you first. Pure and haunting, it caresses softly, insinuating itself into your heart, and just won’t let go. Then, the subtle strengths of her deeply confessional, powerfully poetic songs emerge, revealing hidden layers with every listen. It is this combination that makes CHURCH BELL BLUES a bona fide roots music gem.
Her work is a characteristic of the work of many of the singer-songwriters Catherine cites as influences and inspirations, artists such as Joni Mitchell, Nanci Griffith, Townes Van Zandt, and her East Coast peer, Julie Doiron. Adrian Cooke
Quotable Quotes Update
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CATHERINE MACLELLAN – CHURCH BELL BLUES – PRESS QUOTES “Precise and pure, MacLellan's voice env...CATHERINE MACLELLAN – CHURCH BELL BLUES – PRESS QUOTES
“Precise and pure, MacLellan's voice envelopes with graceful ease, touches of Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch flowing into a permeating influence of Joni Mitchell…MacLellan's voice is stunning, welcome, and new.” DOUG FREEMAN, The Austin Chronicle
“The sparse arrangements showcase MacLellan’s soulful voice, lyrics, and acoustic guitar.” ~TW, American Cowboy Magazine
“Filled with country-tinged folk melodies and searching lyrics” ~ Chatelaine Magazine
“Sublime album…These beautifully crafted vignettes of life and love which, while they are shaped by a uniquely Canadian world, have an immediate and accessible universatility”
~ Bruce Elder, The Sydney Mercury Herald
“The emotions MacLellan creates with her songs are universal…” ~ Boston Spotlight
“Church Bell Blues is an outpouring of emotion that is haunting in its beauty and its simplicity” ~Boston Spotlight
"There's great honesty in her music. Pure, soft and subtle, MacLellan's
sound is born of intimate guitar and a gentle but powerful voice." David
May, Ottawa Xpress.
"New creation after new creation presented to our ears as we sat mesmerized, warmed, in joy or in tears with each well-crafted folk jewel... buy MacLellan’s new upcoming CD for your own little piece of music heaven."~ Todd MacLean - The Guardian
“Catherine MacLellan is a descendent of P.E.I. songwriting royalty...when you hear her velvet voice and personal, poetic lyrics, you’ll know she’s actually worthy of being called The Queen of Heartbreakin’ Country Folk.” ~CBC Radio One
“Her beautiful, unique voice and a gentle acoustic guitar reveal "Church Bell Blues" as a strong Folk-oriented piece... The songs are very pure and reduced to the essence…an invitation to slow down your day, to ignore the phone and dedicate yourself to this lovely album. ~ Stereo Review (Germany)
“Catherine MacLellan…has a spare yet intoxicating delivery perfectly matched to the poetic, confessional songs on Church Bell Blues…catch this young talent on the cusp of a long, great future.”~ Food & Drink Summer 2008
“Church Bell Blues” was #1 on iTunes Top Roots Albums (Canada) – 6 months after release.
Album Review-Church Bell Blues
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Phases & Stages BY DOUG FREEMAN Catherine MacLellan Church Bell Blues (True North) Joining t...Phases & Stages
BY DOUG FREEMAN
Church Bell Blues (True North)
Joining the recent influx of accomplished female singer-songwriters from Canada like Kathleen Edwards and Julie Doiron, Catherine MacLellan's sophomore LP unfolds with a simple, comforting beauty. Precise and pure, MacLellan's voice envelopes with graceful ease, touches of Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch flowing into a permeating influence of Joni Mitchell. "Emily's Song" and "River Valley Plains" snapshot memories both aching and joyous, while "There You Are" melts with a Cowboy Junkies longing. The album courses in confessional tones, mirrored by the imagistic flicker of passing landscapes and seasons that never dramatize ("Snow Day," "January Song"). The title track burns a bluesy apprehension, balanced by the electric guitar-inflected determination of "Brave Love." "Long Time" closes in memory and tribute to MacLellan's father, songwriter Gene MacLellan, culminating Church Bell Blues' ambivalent pull of loss and love. Though lulling in its familiarity, MacLellan's voice is stunning, welcome, and new.
Album Review- UK
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I really liked this album and I think that MacLellan is a genuine talent. Church Bell Blues is th...I really liked this album and I think that MacLellan is a genuine talent.
Church Bell Blues is the second album from Canadian roots singer and guitarist Catherine MacLellan. Lying somewhere between folk and country but staying firmly on the right side of both, it is a stirring collection of songs with seemingly sparse arrangements and delicate instrumentation. Everything is held together by MacLellan's astonishing voice, piercing through the music. The smart but simple production is added by co-musician James Phillips. This is a perfect example of how artist and producer have developed a relationship and understanding over time - Phillips was in MacLellan's former band The New Drifts and worked on her solo debut Dark Dream Midnight. It is this dynamic that forms the core of the album. The guitars are turned up a notch so that every rasp and vibration is retained, adding a stark reality like recapturing every subsequent live performance. But MacLellan's gorgeous voice is left to glide unhindered with crisp clarity. The mark of a great producer is the ability to give the music space to breathe.
The album is packed with wonderful songs. From the dark chords and melancholy searching lyrics of opener 'Dreams Dissolve' and 'There You Are' to the bluesy guitars and sultry vocals of the title track and excellent 'Brave Love', there are plenty of gems. 'The Long Way Home' has a beautiful vocal melody - male and female voices blending together and the duel guitars of 'Emily's Song' combine perfectly. 'River valley Plains' chronicles the environmental plight facing the planet, all wrapped up in an emotive road trip: "One hundred fifty years we'll throw our garbage, shed out tears into the river that once ran clear through these lands". The electric guitar makes another rare appearance for the upbeat jangle 'Too Easy', a song about living up to your expectations and the realisation that nothing is for free: "...Never thought I'd have to face up to the hard truth. Cold as stone, knocked me from my throne. All my life it was given to me, should've known it was too easy". Instead of a predictable guitar solo there is a wordless vocal solo that actually works. 'January Song' is so stripped down that it is almost a cappella. And closing track 'Long Time' brings another peerless vocal performance.
Church Bell Blues is an understated and pure album of heartfelt songs and captured moments, as modern as it is old-fashioned. It knows exactly what it is and never deviates from a straight line. This is the only negative criticism that is slowly expelled after a few listens when the individuality begins to emerge from vast ocean. Songs like 'Stronger' could get lost under the waves unless you take the time to appreciate the brilliant guitar work. Likewise 'Snow Day' only serves to conjure up images within a simple story while doing nothing new musically. It is only when you stop scratching the surface that you find the quality. No trick is ever overused and subtly changed if repeated.
Catherine MacLellan clearly understands and respects her musical heritage handed down by her family. Her father Gene taught her the art of song writing from a young age and this lineage is clear to see. And unlike many of her contemporaries, she puts as much emphasis on the stories being told. Some artists have music in their blood.
Happy trails with Catherine MacLellan
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The gem in the heart of Mount Stewart is glimmering again this year, as its 2008 season should be as...The gem in the heart of Mount Stewart is glimmering again this year, as its 2008 season should be as fantastic and star-studded as ever.
It was on a supreme high note that The Trailside Café swung open wide its doors for the summer last weekend with two of the Island’s best female singer-songwriters: Brooke Miller on Friday night and Catherine MacLellan on Saturday night.
Yep, it was that kind of weekend where I wish I had two weekly columns to write.
I opted for MacLellan, particularly because it’s been a while since I’ve seen her do her own show and I?wanted to get a taste of her newly-written material.
The Trailside was packed even early on, as I arrived to join some friends at a table near the front and indulge in a lovely meal of vegetarian lasagna and salad with some white wine (sorry, I just love stepping into Bob Gray territory).
At 8 p.m., MacLellan stepped up to the stage, picked up that well-loved, black sunburst Gibson acoustic with strings twirled on its headstock and greeted the standing-room-only crowd with a warm hello.
“Thank you all for coming,” she smiled, as two fine accompanists beside her took up their instruments:?Kyle Cunjak on standup bass and Nick Cobham on lead nylon-string guitar.
“We’re gonna’ start with a song that I like to play a lot ’cause it’s about planting potatoes, and being from P.E.I., I think it’s something that we all should do at least once, which is how many times I actually did it.”
Laughs from the crowd joined the opening chords of the budding P.E.I. anthem, as feet tapped away and hearts were brightened immediately to the sounds of the best upbeat Island potato song since Bud the Spud.
“I never worked so hard in all my life,” she sang, “never been so tired/never felt so alive/I could do this ’till kingdom come/but we only need to do it ’till the work is done.”
After that rollicking opening new number, MacLellan went on to tell us that we were in store for this kind of thing all evening long.
“We’ve been rehearsing for a few days together because we’re getting ready to make a new album. So we’re gonna’ play mostly new songs tonight.”
Up to the last song of the first set, it was just new creation after new creation presented to our ears as we sat mesmerized, warmed, in joy or in tears with each well-crafted folk jewel.
Highlights were the several songs written for her daughter, Isabel (my favourite being the one that begins with, “Darlin’ I don’t quite know where to start/but you have my love/and you have my heart” — a really, really special song), and one song that she has written for her father.
“I wrote this one at my sister’s piano,” she said in the song’s introduction. “There’s a picture of my dad and my sister on the piano, and it’s a really lovely picture — they’re both so ecstatically happy.”
I will not hide it. I had tears streaming down my face during this song. But considering the subject matter, the raw purity of its nature and the emotional power of its chorus, “I won’t forget all the good things you gave us/for now let’s pretend that you never left,” it’s easy to see why.
And I’m sure my wet eyes weren’t the only ones in the house.
Intermission was spent enjoying the mild June evening air, while delighting in a delectable Romeo Y Juliet Cuban cigar with my friend, Lobie Daughton, and getting the chance to talk with MacLellan.
Many compliments were given, of course, but if I had written this down before I spoke to her, I would have succinctly told her this: “There is a directness to your lyrics and songs in general now, which shines through even clearer than ever before as though you’ve been meaning to write these songs for so long and now have finally found the exact perfect words to say and the exact perfect notes to sing. And it’s certain that everyone is going to love this new record of songs with the same degree of love that you put into them.”
Returning to that coziness of the candlelit café for another 45 minutes of wonderful tunes, some old favourites thrown into the mix and a couple of extra new ones as well, she finished off with her sing-along classic, “I’m gonna’ set this heart on fire and bring this world some light.”
It was a mighty fine way to cap off an evening that, in itself, was just one little piece of heaven.
Church Bell Blues Review
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" the strengths of the song-writing are there to be heard very early with one of the strongest songs..." the strengths of the song-writing are there to be heard very early with one of the strongest songs on the record Too Easy, which benefits from a nice hook in the middle. On the title song Maclellan and the band stretch out a bit and the song works really well with the guitar chugging away in support of her vocals, definitely one of the best songs on the record as is the penultimate track Brave Love. ...there's plenty here to enjoy."
CATHERINE MACLELLAN'S LATEST REFLECTS NEWFOUND OPTIMIST
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PEI SINGER/SONGWRITER WINS PRAISE FOR RELAXED, INTIMATE 'WATER IN THE GROUND' The Catherine MacLe...PEI SINGER/SONGWRITER WINS PRAISE FOR RELAXED, INTIMATE 'WATER IN THE GROUND'
The Catherine MacLellan revealed on her highly praised third album, 'Water in the Ground,' is a much more optimistic creature than the one featured on her 2006 breakthrough record, 'Church Bell Blues.' "This album is a lot happier," says the Prince Edward Island-based singer/songwriter. "I've tried to not write so many sad and depressing songs about heartbreak. Maybe just one or two a record! For a starting songwriter, I think it's easier to write the sad songs, but the more I write happier songs the easier it becomes."
The relaxed and intimate feel of her new album reflects the creative environment established by MacLellan. The bulk of 'Water in the Ground' was recorded with her core band and her long-time co-producer James Phillips in rustic surroundings in her home province. "The other two albums were so quiet, so I wanted to make a band record this time," says MacLellan. "We just hung out in a log cabin for four days. It doubles as the home of [studio owner] Reg Ballagh, and we basically played in his living room and set the board up in an adjacent room. We spent the days there, then stayed at a friend's house five minutes away, while another friend who is a great cook would come over. It was like music camp!"
The other tracks were recorded in Toronto with roots music producer/guitarist David Baxter, and they feature notable guests Justin Rutledge, Treasa Levasseur, and Brian Kobayakawa (Creaking Tree String Quartet).
MacLellan's artistic signatures are a haunting and pure voice and emotionally eloquent and introspective folk-rooted songs. She learned about the life of the songwriter early on and close to home, as she is the daughter of legendary songsmith Gene MacLellan, writer of such huge '70s international hits as 'Snowbird' (Anne Murray) and 'Put Your Hand In The Hand' (Ocean).
He died when MacLellan had just entered her teens, but his influence was profound. "I grew up watching him write songs in the living room with pen and paper or with a guitar on his lap. That was what I thought you were supposed to do, and eventually I started doing it. Before I could even play guitar, I wrote these awful songs about stupid things and I'd sing melodies. I am really proud to be his daughter and to be able to follow a little in his footsteps. He was a fantastic songwriter."
After a period spent honing her craft at open mike nights at folk clubs in Toronto, MacLellan joined forces with Phillips in the Maritimes-based The New Drifts. Her 2004 debut solo album, 'Dark Dream Midnight,' showcased the artistic potential that was then fully revealed on 'Church Bell Blues.' That record was very well received in Europe, and tours of Sweden and the U.K. proved successful. "England was amazing," says MacLellan. "People come out not knowing who you are and they'll listen the whole time. Often in pubs you'd think people were having a terrible time, but they are giving you so much respect by just listening."
A typical set will run 45-60 minutes and consist of Catherine's original material. Sets will vary depending on the type of show and requests submitted by fans and promoters.