Kate & Anna McGarrigle

Kate & Anna McGarrigle

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Debut albums simply aren't supposed to be as accomplished and beautifully crafted as Kate & Anna McGarrigle's first record, which is as lovely and superbly realized as folk-rock gets. While producers Joe Boyd and Greg Prestopino assembled an all-star crew to back up the McGarrigle sisters (including Lowell George, Tony Levin, Steve Gadd, and Bobby Keys), nothing steals the spotlight away from Kate and Anna, both of whom sing with a pure clarity that's never so pretty it fails to reflect the real world, harmonize with an uncanny grace, and write songs that are clever, witty, wise, and often deeply moving. Lots of folkies have written movingly about the troubling ties of home (as in "My Town" and "Talk to Me of Mendocino"), a good number have sung about the ache of a broken heart (like in "Heart Like a Wheel," famously covered by Linda Ronstadt), some can communicate bitter resignation or sly, sarcastic wit ("Go Leave" and "Jigsaw Puzzle of Life"), and no more than a few can express the joys of grown-up eros ("Kiss and Say Goodbye"). Kate & Anna McGarrigle is a record that manages to make all these emotions ring true, and never with one canceling out another. Quite simply a nearly perfect record, and if you're not a fan, repeated listenings to this album might make you one.

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