Catherine MacLellan – If It’s Alright With You: The Songs of Gene MacLellan

Catherine MacLellan - If It's Alright With YouThe challenge a second-generation songwriter faces is carving their own place in the world of music. Jacob Dylan avoided discussions about his famous father Bob for years. Latin-pop star Enrique Iglesias went as far as using a false name to avoid benefitting off the fame of his father Julio. For PEI songwriter Catherine MacLellan, she worked hard on developing her own style, crafting songs and releasing records – five since her debut in 2004. On her sixth, she is finally ready to combine her talents as a musician with the songs written by her late father Gene MacLellan.

Gene MacLellan was best known for penning Snowbird, one of the first major hits for Anne Murray (and first single recorded by a Canadian woman to sell a million copies in the US). But his songs have also been recorded by Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, Hank Snow, Loretta Williams, and others. In 1971, Canadian gospel band Ocean had a #2 hit with Put Your Hand In The Hand. He was one of Canada’s earliest major music exports and his songs continue to live on, with the latest incarnation to come from his own daughter.

If It’s Alright With You: The Songs of Gene MacLellan is a collection of covers handpicked by Catherine that “kept changing right up to the end,” she writes in the liner notes. They include the well-known songs like Thorn In My Shoe and Shilo Song, as well as the aforementioned Put Your Hand In My Hand and Snowbird, a song Catherine previously recorded for her 2011 album Silhouettes, but this time she puts down the guitar for a Wurlitzer.

The album benefits from lush arrangements and rich instrumentals, but the biggest compliment it offers are the strong melodies that offer such a heavy contrast to modern music, where melody often hides behind production. Between the songs themselves and Catherine’s warm vocals, melody takes the front seat in these songs that cross between country and folk, both genres Catherine is familiar with in her own work. While recordings of these songs go back to the 70s, Catherine’s take on them sounds fresh and modern, not something just any song can afford. Timeless is a word often overused when it comes to music, but these songs are truly timeless as Catherine delivers not only a solid record of covers but one of the year’s best albums.
Five stars

1. Pages of Time
2. If It’s Alright With You
3. Thorn In My Shoe
4. The Call
5. Snowbird
6. Put Your Hand In My Hand
7. Just Wanna Be Loved By You
8. Won’t Talk About Love
9. Lonesome River
10. Face In The Mirror
11. Bidin’ My Time
12. Faces
13. Shilo Song

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