Linda McRae
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Linda McRae

Kingston Springs, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1997 | MAJOR | AFM

Kingston Springs, Tennessee, United States | MAJOR | AFM
Established on Jan, 1997
Solo Folk Americana




"CFMA's Nominate Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts "Contemporary Album of the Year"!"

Linda's new recording Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts has been nominated for Contemporary Album of the year. Linda's and her team are very pleased and excited to have been given this honour. - Canadian Folk Music Awards

"Fred Schmale - Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts Review"

Translated from Dutch - English

The Canadian singer-songwriter Linda McRae is active in music since 1978. She played in quite a number of groups, from 1988 to 1996 she was a member of the popular Canadian folk-rock group Spirit of the West "and was involved in no less than 8 CDs of this group. After 1996 Linda goes solo and delivers with 'Rough edges and ragged hearts "her fourth solo CD. Linda wrote 9 of the 11 songs on the album itself, five of them along with husband James Whitmire, with whom she lives and works since 2008 in Nashville. The two covers are a convincing 'Ramblin' Man "by Hank Williams Sr., here solo brought by Linda with only her voice and her clawhammer banjo, and the beautiful 'In the valley below" Charlie Stephenson Linda on that banjo and accordion and Samantha Parton (ex "Be Good Tanya's") as a second vocalist. Absolutely beautiful. Linda is also featured on guitars and bass. In the delightful small and subtle guidance we hear co-producer Marc L'Esperance (fiddle, drums, spoons, jaw harp, guitar and vocals), Doug Cox (dobro), Stephen Nikleva (electric guitar), Tommy Babin (upright bass), Gurf Morlix (guitar, bass, vocals) and Ray Bonneville (harmonica, guitar).

In the delicious gospel-tinged closer "Be your own light 'we hear The Sojourners and McRaezie Choir, it becomes an uitermatige worthy ending. Linda has her own folk mixture composed assuming Canadian / American standard folk with a hint of country, a tuft of blues, Celtic influences and Appalachian old-timey sauce. Her voice is nice and robust separately. The lyrics deal with love, the American life, hope after a stay in prison, violence in children's songs and a narrative song about Townes Van Zandt ("The outlaw jackets cried a silent tear for a friend they could not save, and if by chance you had listened you could almost hear them say "we could have had him any day, we only let him go so wrong Out of kindness I suppose'' (the experts understand it).

Linda McRae deserves much more attention than they have received so far. Her "Rough edges & Ragged Hearts" is a prachtCD with delicious pure folk music. The variation in songs and accompaniment is excellent and ensures that the CD from beginning to end very interesting remains.
- Real Roots Cafe - The Netherlands

"Tom Murray - Linda McRae brings new album to Edmonton"

EDMONTON - There are times when you just can't imagine a musician living outside a particular city.
Like Linda McRae and Vancouver, for example. Long a stalwart in that city's roots music scene, McRae gained recognition as a dazzlingly skilful and soulful singer-songwriter, working with producers like Colin Linden (of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings) and Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams) on a series of acclaimed albums. She's lived more than two decades on the West Coast. That she needed to make a move somewhere where she could blossom as an artist is understandable but - Nashville? The city that prides itself on turning songwriters into worker drones?
"It's not so bad," McCrae objects with a laugh from her brother's home in Okotoks, where she's taking a brief break before heading back out on tour with her latest album, Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts. "There are some pretty great musicians living there. For some reason, the good stuff just never seems to get over the border into Canada."

Linda McRae will perform at The Black Dog on Saturday.

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If so, then McRae is now part of the "good stuff." She always was, actually. She made her mark as a multi-instrumentalist with Spirit of the West in the '90s before striking out on her own, turning up as a valued player on albums by Neko Case, Rodney DeCroo, John Guliak and many more. McRae made her late-life move when, on the prompting of new husband and lyrical collaborator James Whitmire, she chose Music City and started delving even further into American folk music.
In the past while, she has studied Appalachian-style vocals with Tracey Schwarz and Ginny Hawker, finger-style guitar with Juno-Award-winner Ken Hamm and clawhammer banjo with Brad Leftwich, prominent musicians all. McRae was already an adept instrumentalist but the time was well spent. Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts is her best yet, a heart-swelling piece of roots music raw with the sound of loneliness and love.
"We recorded it live off the floor, and did all of my stuff in the first few days. Then we started to bring people in to fill it out. We got Ray Bonneville in to play harmonica, because that's what I heard on a song called Three Midnights, and there aren't many better harmonica players than Ray."
The middle part of the title track called for something very different in McRae's mind.
"I heard a square dance call," she chuckles. "The song is about a barfly who has been in the bar for years and years, and it's based around that whole scene. I just thought it would be fun to have Gurf (Morlix) come out and do background vocals and the square dance call."
Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts isn't the only new thing in McRae and Whitmire's life. Last April, the couple paid a day visit to the infamous New Folsom Prison in California as guests of the head of the Arts in Corrections program, playing concerts and hosting songwriting workshops for the inmates.
"Just hearing their songs was amazing and moving," McRae says. "It was an incredible experience and really eye-opening, completely not what I expected. I guess my only other idea of prison had come from movies, and it's quite a bit different. You know, my husband was an addict 25 years ago, so you could see where he might have ended up. I feel like we have this connection with people on the brink."

They're making arrangements to visit Folsom again for another round of workshops, and they've also started working on a similar concept in Canada, planning workshops in prisons in Ontario and Nova Scotia, as well as a youth-at-risk facility in B.C.
"We did a festival in Prince George called Coldsnap, and hosted an open mike for their local youth program. Prince George has one of the highest crime rates in Canada and it's such a small town. Some of the stuff the kids there deal with is unbelievable. You can hear it in the lyrics of their music, and even in the melodies." - Edmonton Journal

"Pick of the Week - Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts Interview"

This is an interview Linda did with Allison Brock just after the CD was released. - CKUA

"Brandi Morin - Roots Trobairitz stopping by Early Stage"

She's been on the road in Canada the U.S. and Europe for the past 25 years doing what she does best: music. Multi instrumentalist and roots singer/songwriter Linda McRae is making her second appearance in Stony Plain this weekend.

Hailing from Vancouver, McRae grew up around music and started played the accordion (perhaps the instrument she is most famous for in the Canadian music scene) at the age of 6. Music was all she ever knew from playing solo to being a member of the wildly successfully and award winning Canadian folk rock/Celtic rock band Spirit of the West in the 1980's. McRae toured with the band known for classic hits like "Home For a Rest" playing accordion and bass for over 8 years until she decided to branch out to concentrate on her own music. She began playing a multi instrumentalist solo gig that showcased her many talents including her ability to play accordion, guitar, banjo and a porch board which McRae describes as a "foot stomp box," as well as her raw, vintage vocals reminiscent of Janis Joplin mixed with the twang of Tanya Tucker. An avid songwriter McRae is promoting her fourth solo album titled Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts.

She travels the lonely road with the loving company of her husband James Whitmire whom she insists on boasting how they met on, married in 2006. The two started collaborating after Whitmire began sharing his poetry writing's with McRae and have been songwriting together ever since. They also have a flat in Nashville where they alternate time between life on the road and their main home in Victoria. All in all McRae lives a true trobairitz lifestyle.

This year Whitmire is celebrating 25 years of sobriety and the two have held songwriting workshops at many prisons throughout North America including the notorious Folsom Prison in California.

They just got the go ahead from a Canadian grant program that will allow them to go into more prisons. The hard knocks receives them well-said McRae.

"It's really incredible. It's kind of been a gift for us to be able to give back," she said.

She will play two shows at the Early Stage Saloon this Friday and Saturday evening starting at 9 p.m.

As far as her show and what to expect of a performance McRae fells it's all about staying true to the heart and soul of music.

"I try to make it fun and make people think a bit. Hopefully some people can relate to some of the experiences that I sing about. I will keep playing music till I drop dead. for sure," ended a chuckling McRae.

Twitter: @brandi_RepEx1 - Spruce Grove Examiner

"Peter North - Linda McRae's Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts"

I have said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s something about sitting with a performance for a few weeks and allowing oneself to absorb and completely appreciate what has been witnessed, rather than having to respond to artistic expression in the blink of an eye.

For a couple of decades I found myself racing back to either the Edmonton Journal or Edmonton Sun and having to file concert reviews that would have a very short turnaround. This isn’t a complaint, it is part of the given job description but even the timelines as a reviewer changed drastically between my first taste of reviewing shows for the Sun, when I first landed in that newspaper’s newsroom toward the end of 1985, and 2004, when I decided I had filed my last concert review for the Journal. I clearly recall being able to sit through a complete 90-minute concert at The Jubilee Auditorium or two mid-week sets of an act performing at the Sidetrack Café and making my way back to The Sun around 10:30 pm.

Editors were never stressed or demanding that copy be filed inside of thirty minutes, which is what the drill had become by the time we entered the new millennium. In the days of of three-set shows at the Sidetrack Café or a blues joint like Jasper’s, which was located in the Convention Centre, your local columnists were given a good two hours to construct a review and reasonably reflect on the show and audience’s response. By 1999, a reviewer’s time spent listening to an artist had been trimmed to, in some instances, thirty minutes before it was time to bolt back to the newsroom. Your trusty scribe was supposed to accurately inform an audience as to how a show had taken shape and unfolded with the hope that one or two of the highlights in a full-length concert had been dished out in the five or six tunes he or she heard. Good luck!

The process had become increasingly unfair to the artists on stage, as well as the audience which was expecting a detailed and accurate account of the show the following day, and to the reviewer assigned to the task. Could you imagine a newspaper insisting on a deadline for covering a Calgary Flames or Edmonton Oilers hockey game fall at 9:20 p.m. when there’s still 17 or 18 minutes left in the third period of a tilt? Come to think of it, the way newspapers are operating these days, we just might see that scenario come to pass some time, but it hasn’t happened yet.

So why am I spending so much time and space musing on this point? We’ll I’ve been able to sit with a number of fine performances since the summer concert season rolled in as of mid-June and one artist whose talents I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on, and assessing, are those of Linda McRae.

Linda’s latest recording Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts received a wonderfully warm reception at CKUA when it was released at the top of the summer and shortly after the disc landed in the CKUA library it found its way to the pole position in the network’s top 30.

Like so many of us, I was first introduced to Linda when she was invited in to an expanded line-up of Spirit of the West where she added her voice, bass playing and squeezebox talents to the Spirit sound. Not long after Spirit of the West members decided to take an indefinite hiatus, Stony Plain Records put Linda in the studio with established musician, but fledgling producer, Colin Linden and her solo career was officially in flight.

In the ensuing 15 years, much has happened in Linda’s life. More solo albums, a short but very memorable stint with a fabulous group of west-coast roots, rockabilly and western swing warriors known as the Knotty Pines, periods of relentless touring, and hosting songwriting circles and workshops in Vancouver account for a great deal of the first ten years of that time frame.

A few years ago Linda put down roots in Nashville and the move enabled the singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist to spread her wings and soar as an artist. Part of the move was inspired by a blossoming personal relationship with James Whitmire, who is American, and one has to believe “the call from the heartland of Americana music” was also inspiration for Linda to build a new home in Tennessee. Immediate access to the sounds of a vibrant and generations-old culture have allowed McRae to hone her musical vision with the tutelage from some amazing mentors and just good old osmosis. It was apparent a couple of years ago, while witnessing this veteran musician in concert at the Blue Chair Café in Edmonton, that a more clearly defined focus was at the core of McRae’s body of work and presentation.

After taking in a handful of McRae’s shows and workshop appearances at the Arts Wells Festival a few weeks ago, I can say that this is an artist who has taken strides that are remarkable for any number of reasons and inspiring on so many levels. The night before the Arts Wells Fest officially kicked off, McRae performed on the inviting outdoor stage at the Bear’s Paw Café. While - CKUA

"****/5 Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts Review"

TV Week (Vancouver)
Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts latest from a longtime Vancouver favourite (now residing in Nashville with her husband/collaborator James Whitmire), McRae offers original country songs played with traditional country instrumentation (guitars, banjos, fiddles, accordions – no synths or drum programs, Shania). It’s like stepping into the Dust Bowl era, albeit with contemporary themes and concerns. Beautifully sparce and engaging. DOWNLOAD THIS: “Deck of 52.” (42 RPM) ****/5
- TV Week

"David Kleiner - Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts"

Canada's Linda McRae has a backstory and an Appalachian heart. Fingerpicked guitar, clawhammer banjo, fiddle, and even jaw harp support her stories about folks with "Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts." Two of those folks, I gather, are the singer and her husband (and frequent collaborator). Early on, they could only "Hope It Lasts Through Supper." Now, "Doin' Life without Parole" celebrates the enduring strength of their love. "Deck of '52," the sad tale of Townes van Zandt, closes meaningfully with the songwriter's "out of kindness I suppose." A killer Ray Bonneville harmonica solo highlights "Three Midnights," a song about addiction. Reverend Gary Davis style six-string provides the foundation for the full-blown gospel tune, "Be Your Own Light." It's McRae's philosophy of life and one of the cuts that make this record shine.
- Minor 7th US Online Acoustic Guitar Magazine

"Bruce Pollock - Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts - 42 RPM"

This release has been burning up the charts at Alberta’s community radio stations and for good reason. Ragged hearts abound, as both subjects of the songs about shaky love affairs, addictions and hard times, and in the persons of the composers of some of the songs. Hank Williams Sr. has a song covered here; Townes Van Zandt, and his trials, is the subject of another. James Whitmire, Linda McRae’s husband and songwriting partner seems, at least in part, to have inspired several of the songs. Maybe it is simply a matter of writing what you know, or choosing topics you know will resonate with an audience, but mostly this is a rather dark release. This is no feel-good, new, pseudo-country, radio-friendly collection of second-rate songs. The rough edges portion of the title applies equally to the characters, the songwriting and the instrumentation. Drawing upon blues traditions and showcasing both the banjo and fiddle, the release has a plaintive lonesome feel to it. The only thing not rough and ragged about the release is the performances themselves. They are wonderful. Everything about this release suggests that Linda McRae might just be at the top of her game at the moment.
- Beatroute

"Flying Jenny"

Reviews available upon request - Georgia Straight, Americana UK, Toronto Star, etc

"Cryin Out Loud"

Available upon Request - Georgia Straight, Americana UK, Toronto Star, etc

"John Sekerka - Cryin' Out Loud"

Leaving Spirit of the West may have been a hard decision, but as it turns out, it was a good one. Linda McRae continues to stretch her wings and is developing into a helluva performer. It ain't just the pipes, which have always been impressive, but slowly it becomes clear that McRae has a knack for writing deliciously memorable rockin' twang. Surrounded by a crackerjack band that bring the material to life, McRae ups the excellent ante that the Sadies have started with their line of exceptional Canadiana. I am now standing, hand over heart, belting out the anthem! - Cosmic Debris

"Dennis Scanland - Cryin' Out Loud"

Better known as “the girl from Spirit of the West", Linda McRae is trying to make her name as much a household name as the band she once backed up. In 1998 Linda released her first solo effort called Flying Jenny with production help from renowned Canadian producer Colin Linden. With the backing band Cheerful Lonesome, Linda McRae is about to drop her sophomore album on Black Hen. Crying Out Loud is one of the greatest slices of Canadiana (in protest to the Americana moniker) I have heard in recent years. It was produced by Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen, Tom Russell) and the band she has gathered are some of the best country musicians going right now. Linda's songs are well written and expertly delivered. She is a fine solo artist and Crying Out Loud avoids the sophomore slump that so many artists seem to have. McRae has really moved far beyond the Spirit of the West sound into something of her own. - Music Emissions

"Sam Masterton - Carve It To The Heart"

McRae writes from the heart, and her foot-stomping ballads of loss, long nights and love are moving and heartbreaking. Her voice is an honest blend of Loretta, Lucinda and Emmy Lou – perfectly suiting this distinguished wordsmith. - Beatroute Magazine

"Donald Teplyske - Carve It To The Heart"

Recently dubbed The Queen of Canadian Country music, McRae has less in common with Amanda Wilkinson and Carol Dawn Johnson than she does with Jean Ritchie and Betty Cody; this is a woman at home in the country of the 1950s and 1960s. At times, McRae and harmony partner Nova Devonie seem to channel the Louvin Brothers, with McRae singing Ira’s lead to Devonie’s Charlie. - Red Deer Advocate

"Monday Magazine - Carve It To the Heart"

“Melodies so old they seem new” is both a line from the track “Living In The Past With You” and a fine description of the new release from Linda McRae. McRae has come up with an admirable assortment of old-time waltzes, sad laments, classic twangy country western and alt-country “dust bowl” songs for her new release; and she has the right voice for this material, tinged with sadness or grit as required. Recommended if you appreciate fine songwriting and great musicianship. - Monday Magazine

"Hip Crank - Carve It To The Heart"

"This Winding Road" may be a gorgeous drawler driven with a haunting slide guitar, and a lovely ode to country greats Hank, Johnny and Tammy, but it's the mention of Hudson Bay that brings it all home. All Canadians will stand tall with hand over heart in a patriotic fervor that only music can bring and Linda McRae brings it. She may the best-kept country secret around but albums such as this will test that anonymity. With a voice that can be heartbreakingly croaky and velvety smooth, McRae has the pipes to match her considerable writing skills. Cowboy boots, golden curls and silver moons - it's all here, and it's all good. - Hip Crank

"Fish Griwkowsky - Carve It To The Heart"

McRae's voice, particularly when wailing on How Can I Bring Her Back or summoning Jimmie Dale Gilmore's drawl on the next ascot-and-chewin'-tobacco number, is the meal ticket here. The album is an exploration of what country music sounded like before even the Outlaw wave - simple percussion and guitars, loads of familial and fraternal sentiment, salutes to old friends. The cheerlessly positive I'll Watch Your Lovelight Shine, with its "you will find another" sentiment is already burrowing deeper and deeper, hopefully all the way to China. - Edmonton Sun

"John Conquest - Carve It To The Heart"

How reliable is Gurf Morlix? So far, everyone who’s been allowed to use the magic words, “Gurf sent me,” has been a winner, though Morlix does wield this power of imprimatur very sparingly. So I was driving around playing McRae’s third album and trying to block out some penetrating insights, but when I got home and looked at her website, I found that fellow Canadian singer-songwriters Colin Linden had beaten me to it, “When all the trends fade and become dated, and all the music from the cutting edge becomes dull, Linda McRae will continue to stand tall, singing and playing music with honest soul and humility, cutting through the fog with her timeless clarity. Linda is one of the true, soulful pioneers of honest roots music.” McRae has a lot of glowing press, but none of it encapsulates her strengths as well as Linden’s concise encomium. In Living in the past with you, she sings of “melodies so old they seem new,” which would have made a pretty good title for the album, neatly summarizing the way she combines an old-timey sensibility (the only cover is Jean Ritchie’s The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore), eternal lyrical themes and a modern sound, which, along with powerful straight from the shoulder vocals that manages to be no frills and evocative at the same time, make for what another British writer Sian Claire Owen, in Americana UK, aptly calls “a bloody good listen.” - 3rd Coast Music

"Mike Regestreif - Carve It To The Heart"

On her third album Linda McRae applies relatively modern, occasionally rock-tinged, arrangements to fine original songs steeped in bluegrass and old-time country traditions. In other words, this is the kind of record that mainstream Nashville would be making if it still knew how to creatively update the traditions at the heart of country music. McRae rounds out her own songs with a nice version of "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore," Jean Ritchie's classic coal country lament. - Sing Out Magazine

"Alexander Varty - Carve It To The Heart"

Linda McRae's keen, cutting voice is a surgical instrument, and here she slices through 50 years of country corn to arrive at a sound that would sit nicely with anything Hank Williams ever did. You don't need to be a fan of hillbilly music to recognize the real feeling she brings to such lonesome-and-blue originals as "I'll Watch Your Lovelight Shine". Carve It to the Heart is a welcome souvenir of her deep and subtle talent. - Georgia Straight

"Rachel Sanders - Carve It To The Heart"

Combining old-time-y sounds and images with universal themes of heartbreak and redemption, her lyrics are timeless and heartfelt. This is a wholly successful collection with nary a misstep, a most enjoyable listening experience and a solid addition to McRae’s impressive body of work. - Exclaim

"Robert Reid - Carve It To The Heart"

Recorded live off the floor, the album begins with This Winding Road, a brooding electric road song that evokes the spirit of Hank Williams, and ends with Some of My Friends, a slow country waltz as tender as they come. If you're too young to recognize the names Patsy, Loretta and Tammy, have no fear. There's always Linda McRae. - The Record

"Sian Claire Owen - Carve It To The Heart"

Her previous critically acclaimed work includes collaborations and appearances galore from heavy weights such as The Tragically Hip, Richard Bell (The Band), and Blue Rodeo. McRae’s new album, “Carve it to the Heart”, is no doubt set to continue along this vein, it really is marvelous. Although McRae’s songs are traditional in spirit, they have the occasional contemporary twist, and they retain the beautiful timeless quality that you would get with, for example, the music of Hank Williams, most notably in songs like the soporific/romantic “Before the Hereafter” and the delightful “Living in the Past With You”. As an album, “Carve it to the Heart” is versatile, musically excellent, and above all a bloody good listen. Honestly, you really couldn’t ask for more. - Americana UK

"Greg Quill - Carve It To The Heart"

Vancouver singer and songwriter McRae is an ersatz honky-tonk angel almost completely at odds with the cool, organic patina of West Coast folk - a robust singer and an imaginative and uniquely gifted songwriter who proves on this remarkable recording that she is no slave to fashion. The songs here are deeply evocative successors to the revivalist country-folk of the 1970s Outlaw period in Texas and Northern California – honest, whimsical, and tinged occasionally with sorrow and world-weariness. Arrangements are gutsy, rich in twang and country crunch, and throughout McRae's powerful and assured voice is a revelation. One of the best of this year's roots music crop. - Toronto Star, Canada

"John Davy - Carve It To The Heart"

Listening to Linda McRae for the first time is pretty much like discovering Gillian Welch for the first time: here is somebody so completely at home in the idiom of old-time American folk that it feels completely natural, unforced and un-selfconscious. Posessed of a warm, rich voice and some fine skills on the guitar and banjo, Linda McRae has also successfully made the leap to writing - and writing well - Appalachian style folk songs. All but one of the songs here is written or co-written by Linda. The exception is The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore, a Jean Ritchie song that has been much covered and I've just spent an illuminating half hour checking out some of the many versions available. It's truly astonishing how much nuance can be gleaned from a relatively simple song. Linda, with the notable assistance of Stephen Nikleva on guitar, presents as dark and brooding a take as you're likely to have heard; she sounds like the last woman standing in a town full of ghosts and this sound will live with you, I promise.

Her own songs are lovely; stately and well-constructed, they have a timeless quality about them. Which I guess is a way of saying that they make for an escape from the 24/7 life that so many people seem caught up in these days. Calm and reflective, Linda's songs carry echoes of other songs that we all have lodged in our memory somewhere. In the case of Living In The Past With You, the melody is so close to a steal from another song, though I can't make up my mind whether it's Red River Valley or Tennessee Waltz that forms the root. She states her case directly on This Winding Road: "record men with fat cigars/careers like cattle bought and sold..../this winding road has carried a mighty load..../old touring cars and honky-tonk songs.../echo down as I roll down this highway".

Produced with a clarity and simplicity that serves the material well, Carve it to the Heart is a smorgasbord of musical treats bang 'in the tradition' as British folk musicians say it, but it is delivered without a trace of authenticity anxiety; rather this music is warm and alive, and strongly recommended.

John Davy - Flying Shoes - UK

"Jeffrey Morgan - Carve It To The Heart"

Don't let the cute cherub on the front cover fool ya 'cause Linda's slicin' up some of the blowziest country blooze music you'll hear in a tune's age. The wall of sound sonics are so thick you'll want to devour it with a fork--but use a spoon instead because you'll want to get every drop. Mmm mmm good! - Creem Magazine, USA

"Dan Savoie - Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts"

Multi-instrumentalist Linda McRae is best known as a member of Celtic-rockers Spirit of the West when she performed during the band’s peak years from 88 to 96. I can still remember hearing And If Venice Is Sinking for the first time, being drawn in with her incredible accordion playing. I never knew how cool an accordion could be. And now with her fourth solo album Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts, McRae is showing that there’s still more yet to be discovered.

Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts is a venture to the old-time sounds of music’s past. Coming off like a more daring and deeper version of Patsy Cline, McRae’s voice is rich, bold and extremely expressive. She’s suitable for the rooted vibrant and soulful country sound she’s taken to. On this album she plays accordion, guitar, banjo, bass and even a porchboard stompbox. The combination gives the entire album a front porch feel to it that is about as honest and down to Earth as one could be.

Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts is the real deal. The music is honest, the songs all tell stories and McRae is absolutely adorable at the helm. Her voice is one of a genuine storyteller who has lived a vivid life of compassion, love and wonder. One would think she had a hard past life somewhere in the deep south. I hope McRae puts this out on vinyl at some point because I’d love to hear a worn out copy on a worn out old record player. That would be a magical listen and deserving of the honour.

Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts shows just how talented and deep rooted Linda McRae really is. Although some of the songs stick out a bit more than others (Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts, Deck of 52 and In The Valley Below for example) , this is an album to listen to in its entirety and to listen to at the kitchen table or on the front porch. I adore this album. It brought out a piece of me that I never knew existed - and old and ragged part. - Rockstar Weekly, Canada

"Mike Sadava - Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts"

Penguin Eggs – Mike Sadava
I predict that 25 years from now the folksingers of the day will still be borrowing songs from this disc.

McRae, who cut her teeth with Spirit of the West, has been living in Nashville, studying clawhammer banjo and Appalachian music but this fourth solo album is no old-time pastiche. It’s pure McRae - no fake hillbilly accent but true, heartfelt lyrics sung with McRae’s pure, husky, mature voice.

She gets help on a few tracks from Gurf Morlix, Doug Cox, The Sojourners and Ray Bonneville, but it’s all about the songs. Most of the tracks are co-written with her husband, James Whitmire. There’s plenty of pain, but light at the end of the tunnel. “I bought a house with no windows and it’s darker than three midnights in a jar,” she sings in Three Midnights, a song about addiction. The title song begs for affection despite scars and other imperfections.

My favourite line on the disc speaks to McRae’s link between truth and love: “My love’s made of truth and all things good, I won’t end up like Geppetto’s boy.” While she does a great cover of Hank Williams’s Ramblin’ Man, McRae’s own songs are up there with the great master.
- Penguin Eggs

"Alison Brock - We all have our Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts"

Linda McRae has never been a slave to fads or trends. Celebrating 25 years in music this year, she is blessed with one of the most pure, soulful, honest and distinctive voices in Roots music, period! After an almost decade-long career playing and singing with Spirit Of The West, in 1996 she decided to pursue a solo career and to-date has released four independent discs which have all received rave reviews.

Now living in Nashville with husband and songwriting partner James Whitmire, this album is the debut of their collaboration and WOW does it work! The songs go straight to your heart. This, coupled with Linda’s talents as a multi-instrumentalist, raises the recording to a whole new level. They also include a couple of covers including an amazing version of Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man."

Linda co-produced the album along with Mark L'Esperance, with whom she has worked with before. Guest appearances include some amazing musicians - Gurf Morlix, Doug Cox, Ray Bonneville and Po'Girl's Samantha Parton.

The album's sound is born out of Appalachian traditions (which Linda has been studying) yet at the same time completely vibrant today.

Linda McRae will touch your heart with this record, 'cause whether we like to face up to it or not, we all have our Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts. - Wide Cut Country

"Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts Hits #1!!!"

Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts #1 on CKUA Radio! - CKUA Radio

"Flying Solo - Flying Jenny Interview with Pieter Hoffman"

Eight glorious years. Gold and platinum records. Touring the world. What do you do for an encore? Why, quit the band and pursue a solo career, of course. Formerly of Spirit of the West, Linda McRae has flown the coop with the blessings of Canada's Celtic ambassadors and taken a leap of faith.

While drawing deservedly-favourable reviews, her Stony Plain Records debut, Flying Jenny, has surprisingly little in common with Spirit of the West. Although electric does meet folk, McRae leans more toward country -- with a Wilco tattoo on it -- and her previous Celtic clan has left little discernible impression.

Though the break was clean, McRae had apprehensions. "It was frightening to leave the band. I had a great eight years with them. They were so supportive. [But] when I was with Spirit of the West, we were so busy that I never had a chance to write or do my own thing. I guess it was more of a timing thing." Her fears were soothed when she received a $20,000 grant from the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records (FACTOR) to record the album.

Flying Jenny, then, is perhaps more representative of McRae's influences than was Spirit of the West, where she was employed as accordion and bass player. "I love the whole Celtic thing, but I wasn't into that style until I joined the band. Country, alternative-roots is where my heart really lies. I kind of lean towards Uncle Tupelo, Wilco and more traditionalists like the Louvin Brothers." (Aptly, the title of her debut was borrowed from the Louvin Brothers' first live appearance. Playing a country fair in Alabama, in 1943, the brothers performed in the middle of a merry-go-round pulled by mules, called a "flying jenny.")

Growing up in Duncan, B.C., McRae was exposed to music at an early age. "My parents were country and western fans. The house was full of instruments like pedal steel, guitar, double bass and accordion. There were always musicians in the house." Like most teens, though, she did revolt: "I did get into the heavy metal and punk stuff for a while," she laughs. "But I eventually got back to my roots."

Ironically, the instrument McRae is best known for, the accordion, graces only the final track on the album. And James Gray, from Blue Rodeo, was the player. "I guess I didn't really hear any accordion on the album other than on 'Take Your Hat Off.' I've switched to guitar for songwriting purposes now. I've written songs on the accordion before but they're all instrumentals, usually American traditional folk," she says.

While she devoted the good part of last year to write the songs (other than the 13-year-old "Another One Got Away"), for Flying Jenny, recording time in the studio was limited to a rather scant 17 days in Toronto. McRae and producer Colin Linden (Bruce Cockburn, Stephen Fearing) enlisted an excellent core of musicians to help her on Flying Jenny. Joining McRae on the disc reads like the who's who of Canadian artists: Gord Downie, Tom Wilson, Jim Cuddy, and Greg Keelor add their magic, along with Syd Straw, Linden and Andrew Cash, among others.

"Surprisingly, it came together quite easily. Colin was responsible for scheduling everybody to get in the studio. A lot of the people that are on the record I knew from my days with Spirit of the West. When it came down to finally recording, they were all available, which is quite incredible," says McRae. At the moment, she is assembling a band so that she can go out on the road to support Flying Jenny. Already on board are Jesse Zubot and Steve Dawson, both of the Spirit Merchants.

While dreading a November swing through Canada weather-wise, McRae still enjoys life on the road. "Actually, I love touring. I'm still a novice at it, I've only been doing it for eight years now. When you consider some bands that have been doing it for 30 years, eight years is nothing."

McRae recalls when Alejandro Escovedo and his band were in Vancouver recently to play a pair of shows at the Gate and the Railway - Drop D Magazine


G - YVR On-line Magazine
Heart wrenching Country-Folk, heavy on the soul. Gets your heels stompin', your toes tapping, your body swaying, reaches into your heart and spreads feeling like good whiskey - that sweet-sweet burn. She had us all listening intently, and instantly captivated. Beautiful smile, beautiful voice - and a way of making her audience feel like they're sitting in her living room with her, part of her close circle of friends and family.

Gerry Krochak, The Leader-Post Regina, SK
Spirit of the West fans don’t really know McRae - especially her beautiful voice, which was never utilized in SOTW.

Jay Hardwig, Austin Chronical, Austin, TX - SXSW SATURDAY PICKS
Linda McRae brings her strum and alto inflections to Maggie Mae’s West. Drawing inspiration from Charlie Louvin & Neil Young, her music is contemporary folk with a touch of country, a collection of ballads, blues, & love songs.

Katherine Monk, The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, BC
Not many local artists who release a solo CD can pack the Railway Club wall to wall with fans. Fewer still can magically bring a loud, sweaty crew to absolute silence with a simple smile.

Douglas Fulmer, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio
Her music is wonderfully free of pretense, simply and emotionally played without a lot of clutter and distraction. It serves to underscore her warm and powerful vocals.

Lenny Stoute, Toronto Star, Toronto, ON
Linda’s performance at CMW blew away an industry-heavy crowd.

John Lucas, Georgia Straight, Vancouver, BC
McRae’s powerful voice and folky songs are damn near goose bump-inducing. The evenings finale found McRae inviting all the evening’s performers back on-stage for an impossibly big-sounding rendition of the Louvin Brothers “When I Stop Dreaming”.

Kim Hughes, Now Magazine, Toronto, ON
It's amazing how powerful simplicity can be. Linda McRae's Songwriters’ event she imported to Ted's Wrecking Yard for a one-off, was tremendous. McRae kicked things off dishing a sweet, country-tinted rouser. Beautifully presented. - Various


Still working on that hot first release.



New Folsom Prison provides starting point for new Linda McRae album 


California’s Folsom State Prison occupies a hallowed place in the history of country music. As the location of several Johnny Cash performances and the subject of his song “Folsom Prison Blues,” it has become a symbol of the “outlaw” element of outlaw country. Now, some 60 years after Cash first put it on the map, the California State Prison complex has had a transformational impact on another country roots musician: Canada’s Linda McRae. 



After answering a call to host a song-writing workshop at New Folsom in 2011, McRae and her husband, James Whitmire, were moved to develop song-writing workshops for at-risk youth – to try and prevent them from ending up behind bars in the first place. Her new, Steve Dawson-produced album, Shadow Trails, is inspired by that work. 

Though perhaps best-known for her eight-year tenure as a member of the platinum-selling band Spirit of the West, Linda McRae had already raised a daughter and performed for more than ten years with west coast punk and roots outfits before joining Spirit. In fact, the band members were regulars at shows by her previous roots rock band, Terminal City. She joined Spirit in 1988 and is heard prominently on two of its most famous and enduring songs, “Home for a Rest” and “If Venice is Sinking.” In 1995, she and the band performed and recorded with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and released the resulting recording, Open Heart Symphony.The following year, she left the Spirit to launch a solo career and has been charting at folk and roots radio ever since. 



In 2006, McRae found love and much more with James Whitmire, a retired American rancher who had recently discovered his voice as a poet, and who put his skills to work trying to woo her. He told her he’d move wherever she dreamed of living, so the couple settled in Nashville, and Whitmire – who she pays tribute to on the album with the song “My Man” – became her manager, collaborator, and constant source of moral support while she’s out on the road. A recovered addict, who’s been clean for more than 25 years, Whitmire has life experience that many incarcerated individuals and at-risk youth relate to, and that has helped the couple build trusting connections through their therapeutic song-writing workshops. 



That work, in turn, has inspired McRae, whose new album is chalk-full of raw, honest reflections on hardship delivered with a rough-hewn authenticity. 


Band Members