Linda McLean Band
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Linda McLean Band

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"Well Kept Secret"

Rock N Reel, September/October 2007

LINDA MCLEAN
****
No Language
(Bongo Beat Records)

Canadian singer-songwriter Linda McLean is a relatively well-kept secret among American fans thought this is about to change with the release of her second album, No Language. At the core of her musical success lies her astounding song writing ability. She possesses a rare gift for evocative phrase making, a fine attention to lyrical detail, and themes that are as universal as the air around us and timely as the morning paper.
Where so many songwriters struggle with gaining the confidence as well as learning the craft of writing in their early years, McLean has taken to it like a duck to water. At school she studied English literature and poetry and grew up to the sounds of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Listening to classical music such as Bach and Mahler also proved enlightening and it’s all finally come together with No Language.

Colin Palmer
- Rock N Reel, UK


"Add a New Favourite"

Northern Ontario roots rock singer songwriter Linda McLean's debut album Betty's Room was released on Rounder Europe to critical acclaim however it is still unavailable in Canada. No Language is her second album and first North American release. Recorded deep in the Muskoka woods at her home studio - the cover shows her watery backyard - she is joined by Andy McLean - of eighties Police wannabees The Tenants - in writing and on guitar and produced by John Whynot who has worked with Blue Rodeo, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Kathleen Edwards and Lucinda Williams. Not as rough around the edges as Williams and not as smooth as Jann Arden, McLean's work displays those influences but her voice garners comparisons to Edwards and Lynn Miles with an occasional hint of Jane Siberry. If you are a fan of any of the aforementioned artists you can add a new favourite in Linda McLean.

**** out of *****

Bruce Leperre, Music Journalist - Winnipeg Free Press


"Robust Roots Revivalism"

Canadian artist McLean treads a similar path to Kathleen Edwards in that she makes roots orientated rock music with her husband Andy, who co-writes the music and plays the guitars. McLean writes the words and sings in a strong, gritty voice that delivers these songs of displacement, relationships and the inevitability of change. The four piece band offer some robust roots revivalism. Guitar, bass, drums and keyboards all emphasizing the core emotions that underpin these songs. The album, as a whole feels good and delivers the kind of strong statement of intent that you don't often recognize on a first acquaintance. McLean is continuing a tradition of strong female music exponents rather than inventing or delivering anything new, but she does it with a sense of genuine emotion that it transcends any language. - Nettwerk Records, UK


"The Tender Mercies of Linda McLean"

As the hooky riffs and catchy melodies of Love Nor Money introduce Canadian Linda Mclean's second album, No Language, all seems perfectly clear. The country rock supplied by her husband Andy, dovetails neatly with a slightly tousled and defiant voice to produce the kind of songs which will make her the darling of a more mature (i.e. older) audience. And, while female country rock is a crowded market, No Language is robust enough to make its own way in the world. But Canada appears to concentrate on quality rather than quantity where its musicians are concerned and their music is never quite as straightforward as that of their American cousins. So while Linda McLean can mix it with the best, radio friendly rock is just one facet in the diamond of a major talent.

On No Language she sits comfortably alongside the likes of Lucinda Williams and Sarah Harmer, she's the kind of musician for whom the song not the genre dictates the direction. There is an unsettling edge and slightly off the wall quality to Linda McLean, as a listener you're never quite sure what's around the corner. With the haunting call of Where Are You and the rootsier Clouds And Rain, Linda McLean falls through the cracks of easy labelling. She excites without being theatrical, she intrigues without being enigmatic. As the story of All Around unfolds, you feel the need to know as much about its author as you do about the song.

No Language is built on a foundation of intelligent maturity, Linda McLean mines the songs from the seam of her own experience. The beauty of her life in the forests of Canada, bestows an emotional calm to the depths of Almost Alien. While Linda Mclean will justifiably find herself bracketed alongside the very best of today's original thinking singer-songwriters, she has a unique quality that causes you to doubt simple labels.

No Language is an example of how complete an album can be, when it's left to the tender mercies of the likes of Linda McLean. - Michael Mee, Hawick News


"Indie Masterpiece"

Once in a great while, out of the blue, comes an indie masterpiece. Such is the case of Linda McLean. This is the Canadian’s second album and it contains the accessible folk-pop blend that garnered her a wide audience on her BETTY’S ROOM debut, but also steps out, adding some rootsy rock touches that could broaden her fan base. Produced by roots veteran John Whynot, who has worked with the likes of Kathleen Edwards, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn, Blue Rodeo, in the past, this album scores with memorable hooks. The songs are mainly the work of Linda and her partner Andy McLean (who also plays guitars and mandolin). She opens with the infectious Love Nor Money, which insinuates the mind in a pleasant way with just one listen. There’s another compelling hook on How Strong Is Your Sorrow with powerful harmonies on the chorus.

Though the songs have instantly memorable melodies and infectious choruses, the lyrics are all well-written creating word pictures of the trials and tribulations of every day life. Calling is a deeply-thought song that you will find yourself returning to again and again. With its Police guitar figures on the verses and shuffle groove on the chorus, Amsterdam Canals suggests an alternate path for the inevitable blending of traditional country, folk and 1980s pop. This is a record full of impeccable songwriting, inventive musical arrangements and great, sensitive vocal work. One not to be missed. - Alan Cackett, Ed. Maverick Magazine


"One Blessed Lady"

Live Reviews August 2006
Quick-links to sub-sections:
Linda McLean - The Borderline, London - 4th August 2006
M Ward - Oxford Zodiac - 12th August 2006
Los Lobos - The Jazz Cafe, London -16th August 2006
Arlo Guthrie - The Rhythm Festival Bedford - 4th August 2006
Live reviews this month from M Ward, Linda McLean, Los Lobos and Arlo Guthrie.

Linda McLean - The Borderline, London - 4th August 2006

Review by Sian Owen

Opening for what promised to be a pretty stunning evening (i.e. Ray Wiley Hubbard), at the Borderline, London, Linda McLean and Hubby Andy McLean performed an intimate set, which, given that this particular writer had rushed straight from work, in London Summer heat (involving the usual rigmarole of getting stuck on the Underground, sat next to some old man with terrible body odour and halitosis), was a very welcome experience.
For those who have heard McLean’s new album, “No Language”, which is fairly slick in terms of production, their striped down acoustic set was a cool version of a lovely set of songs. It’s always a pleasure to hear acoustic versions of recorded tracks, and when an artist makes those songs sound as rich as the recordings, but with fewer instruments, it’s a credit to their musicianship. Plus Linda McLean has a great voice, flipping from the steely tone similar to that of Lucinda Williams, to something altogether a lot more soft and gentle. It seemed bizarre that she was the opening act on this evening, but the general standard of musicians was certainly higher than the usual bog-standard acoustic Alt.Country acts touted around. Perhaps the booking agent had a momentary bout of dippiness? Ah well…

McLean is one blessed lady, spending much of her time living in the forests of Northern Ontario, drawing on the beauty of her surroundings to inspire her music. Well, there are worse ways to spend your time. This love of nature, and an organic appreciation of pretty much everything spills across into her music. McLean is one of those artists who is very humble in the face of being creative.
As she explained, “Sometimes, its like the music takes on a life of it’s own. With ‘Almost Alien’, I wrote that in about half an hour, it just came right out.”

Whereas songs like “Burn The Boats”, another stand out track on the new album, just paint gorgeous pictures, and evoke powerful imagery: “Well, it’s a love song,” explained McLean, “And because I’m Norwegian, my husband had this idea of this Viking imagery, the whole pushing the boats out, burning the boats.”

Lyrically, McLean comes out with lines that really grab the listener. For this writer, “Almost Alien” has McLean describing ‘Warming herself by candle-light”, which brought back memories of living as a poor student in a big old house in Sunderland, lighting candles to make the rooms look warm, even when it was beyond Baltic (cue violins). Explaining this to McLean, she went on to fully empathise (or visa versa): “We were in this cottage in the countryside, and it was really cold, so yeah, I imagined what it would be like for people to put the candles and pretend to be warm.”

At this point, it’s worth mentioning that McLean is an extremely likable and fun person to be around, and very easy to talk with. In fact it felt more like a night in the pub having a gossip rather than anything else, which is always a bonus. So, bearing this in mind, was there any showbiz gossip from the world of Alt. Country? Not in a PopBitch sense, in fact the worst it got was that Lucinda Williams wore some weird make-up once. As McLean explained, “I’d been to see her in concert and we got backstage to see her, she was amazing, one of my heroes. Anyway, when I met her, she was hunched over this table, and when she turned around, very slowly, she had this bright pink and green weird eye make-up right across her face. She was nice, but wasn’t very, well, reality-based at the time.”

“I just wanted to listen to her music, which is beautiful. I wasn’t really interested in hanging around drinking Bourbon with her or anything like that.”
So there you go, ‘Hard Core Rockster Gets Hammered After Gig Shocker’. Well, you had to be there I guess. But it did lead the conversation onto something McLean obviously cares very much about, and that is the notion of quality pop music.

It seems a shame that, at the moment in mainstream pop, there is a ‘dumbing down’ of popular music. For example, children seem to be routinely exposed to uniform, plastic pop, which might sound nice, but they aren’t really given the skills to be their own critics, in the sense that there is little for them in terms of quality to hear, and therefore use as a basis for comparison. All they seem to get is meaningless drivel.

“Absolutely,” agreed McLean, “Pretty much all my songs have a message in them. It’s a really good way of getting across something you want to say.”
Practically every song McLean has written is either a powerful memory, story, or - Americana-UK


Discography

2010: (LMB 12 New Songs, Work in Progress, TBA)
2005: No Language *(Bongo Beat; Outside Distribution in Canada, Burnside Distribution in US and Pinnacle/Nettwerk Distribution in UK)
2003: Betty's Room (Rounder/CRS; Europe) (Mandolin Records; Canada & US)
2001: Beauty (Independent, P&C Mandolin Songs)

Photos

Bio

Linda McLean Band (LMB) is a super group of seasoned music pros showcasing the collective experience of Linda McLean (Singer, Songwriter), Andy McLean (Guitars, Composer), John Switzer (Bass, Producer), and Gary Craig (Drums, Arrangement). The new project is the collaboration of their award winning writing, recording, performing and producing.

Linda McLean writes songs on the top of a hill in northern Ontario, and tours Europe and parts of North America solo, sometimes with friends, over the past 10 years in support of her 1st and 2nd CD releases Betty’s Room and No Language. She has a professional background in Theatre, a Masters in Education and works to advocate for the Arts and Culture.
Musician, composer Andy McLean’s day job is being the Managing Director and a founding owner of the NXNE Music Festival. Before that, he was the lead songwriter and guitarist for 80’s hit bands The Tenants and Doubledare. And before becoming such an upbeat guy, Mclean was a real soccer hooligan in his Manchester UK hometown.
Drummer/percussionist Gary Craig is on the A List for many artists including Anne Murray, Bruce Cockburn, Colin Linden, Tom Cochrane, Jann Arden, Kathleen Edwards, The Rankin Family, Suzie Vinnick, Jason McCoy, George Canyon,
The Wilkinsons, Allanah Myles, John Bottomley, Lawrence Gowan, The Kings, Eddie Schwartz, Karyn Ellis, John McDermott and Linda McLean.
Musician, Producer John Switzer is a multi Juno award winner for producing records for Jane Siberry, Andrew Cash, The Grievous Angels, Rita Chiarelli, and The Waltons, Nathan, among many others. His current day job is running the Independent Music Program at Seneca College.

Linda McLean Background Bio and Reviews
Linda McLean is "..a superb artist who justifiably finds herself bracketed alongside the very best of today's original thinking singer-songwriters, holding a unique quality that causes you to doubt simple labels. A major talent sits comfortably alongside the likes of Lucinda Williams and Sarah Harmer.” “Once in a great while, out of the blue, comes an indie masterpiece. Such is the case of Linda McLean....a superb Canadian female singer-songwriter...”
Award winning singer songwriter Linda McLean lives in the forests of Northern Ontario writing taut songs full of fire and emotion not easily forgotten. NO LANGUAGE (BongoBeat) is her second CD (the first released in Canada) and the strong follow up to her critically acclaimed debut BETTY'S ROOM (2003,RounderEurope). NO LANGUAGE offers continued evidence of prolific and finely crafted songwriting skills. Amidst comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Fiona Apple, critics have ranked McLean among the best of her Canadian contemporaries; "There is a 'holy trinity' of Canadian singer songwriters, Sarah Harmer,Kathleen Edwards and Linda McLean." (CBC Radio) “Her material straddles the line between roots stylings and an adult contemporary-tinged sound à la Jann Arden or Sarah McLachlan...lyrics are gently introspective and reflective, and they possess the ring of hard-earned truths, rather than the facile musings of so many of her younger peers.”(Exclaim Magazine)”Not as rough around the edges as LucindaWilliams and not as smooth as Jann Arden, McLean's work displays those influences but her voice garners comparisons to Edwards and Lynn Miles with an occasional hint of Jane Siberry. If you are a fan of any of the aforementioned artists you can add a new favourite in Linda McLean.” ( Winnipeg Free Press)
Linda McLean BIO
Music reviews such as the following; “Once in a great while, out of the blue, comes an indie masterpiece. Such is the case of Linda McLean's NO LANGUAGE....Another superb Canadian female singer-songwriter you need to seek out.” (Maverick Magazine, UK) found her touring solo across Europe and finding sublime opening spots for acts such as Liverpool fav Nick Harper and americana darling Carrie Rodrigues. Building her solid repetoire, NO LANGUAGE (BongoBeat 2005) followed the brilliant and critically acclaimed debut CD BETTY'S ROOM (Rounder/Europe, 2003) who found loving fans such as Hollands most famous music journalist Leo Blokhuis who wrote“these are songs that have been lived. Linda is a singer/songwriter in the best tradition of fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell's 70's work.” (VARA, The Netherlands). Creating a stir on both sides of the Atlantic, music reviewers are ranking her among the best of her North American contemporaries; descriptors such as“country-tinged beauty with reference points stretching from Lucinda Williams to KD Lang.” (UK Music Media Review), and, "There is a 'holy trinity' of Canadian singer songwriters, Sarah Harmer, Kathleen Edwards and Linda McLean."(CBC Radio), and, “material straddling the line between roots stylings and an adult contemporary-tinged sound à la Jann Arden or Sarah McLachlan that possess the ring of hard earned truths.”(Exclaim Magazine, Canada), are backed by hometown endorsements like “These are tunes with the ache