Monday, December 6, 2010

REVIEW OF THE DAY: Kate & Anna McGarrigle - Odditties


The death of Kate McGarrigle spurred on her sister Anna to finally get around to this long-conceived archival project. It's a collection of twelve tracks cut from the early 70's to 1990 for various reasons, none of them released before. They go back to their first folkie roots, including a version of the beloved Log Driver's Waltz, different than the one which we're familiar with from the famous NFB short. The sister's love of Stephen Foster is on display, songs weighed down with the dust of the 19th century, their voices certainly suited to lyrics about Civil War sadness. The live recording of A la Claire Fontaine from 1976 is sub-bootleg quality, but its muffled and distorted sound once again gives authenticity rather than distraction, and is beautiful in its connection to both Quebec culture and the pure folk tradition. Also en francais is a Cajun hoedown called Parlez-nous a boire, a studio version of a concert favourite.

Another song with dodgy fidelty but tremendous value is called Louis The Cat, a story about a pet who changes a family's lives, only to break hearts when he becomes lost. It's from a living room recording in the early 70's, complete with car horns, creaking pedals and chirping birds. It shows, unadorned, their amazing sibling voices, with harmonies so special, and unison so perfectly matched. The McGarrigle Sisters forays into the rock world are also touched on, with As Fast As My Feet a sister-song to Love Over & Over from their pop period.

The McGarrigle Sisters simply did not release enough music, for my money. Of course, their sales were never huge, and had dwindled in the past two decades. Yet their live concerts were always a treasure trove of musicianship and beauty, and hopefully there are more finds to match this wonderful collection. A boxed set would be nice.


  1. Have always loved The McGarrigle Sisters!

  2. I Bought This on iTunes and will now get CD. Everything they put out is a fem

  3. I could be wrong, but I get the impression from (Anna's comments on) the McGarrigles' website, that "Louis The Cat" was written and sung by Anna and Audrey Bean and that Kate is not singing on that song.