Catherine MacLellan


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The best-known song written by Catherine MacLellan's late father, Gene MacLellan, is "Snowbird," which she finally gets around to covering on her fourth album, Silhouette. The daughter also has an interest in aviary companionship, though she is more likely to be communing with a "Black Crow" or "Sparrows," not to mention using flora and fauna as metaphorical imagery to trace the ups and downs of human emotional relationships. Her takes on these images can be surprising. "Black crow, black crow, stay with me a while," she sings familiarly, for instance, reversing the usual reaction to the bird. Similarly, she begins "Eastern Girl" with this verse: "Staying way up in the mountains/Where it's so hard just to breathe/And everything looks like a miracle/So hard to believe." The miracle MacLellan is most interested in, and which she finds most difficult to believe in, is love, of course. In song after song, she sings in a lazy tone, rarely rousing herself, yet managing to be heard over the folk-rock arrangements, and she ponders, as she puts it in "True Love," "What is true love?," answering herself, "I don't know." In "Lines on the Road," the imponderable thing seems to be death rather than love, but no matter what, MacLellan's narrators just keep looking at the nature around them and wondering about eternal issues without coming to any conclusions. Happily, she seems content to keep wondering and sharing her observations with her listeners. She has yet to write a song as catchy as "Snowbird" (a somewhat cheerier song about love gone wrong), but her more introspective stance draws listeners in and leads them to examine the questions that fascinate her for themselves.

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