Under Review

Linda McRae

Carve It to the Heart

Black Hen Music

Review By Mike Chilton


When talking about depression-era-inspired country, there’s usually a few failsafe terms freely bandied about the subject: ‘lazy midsummer days porch jams,’ ‘last call saloon music,’ ‘murder balladry,’ ‘torch song country,’ ‘hurtin’ music,’ and the like. Thing is, with Linda McRae’s third solo effort, these are more truisms than clichés.

With this local roots songstress’ nods to the lineage of Kitty Wells to Loretta Lynn still as intact and as confident as ever, McRae’s music bridges the gap between such icons in the genre as Patsy Cline to Oh Susanna without missing a step or coming off glib. Meanwhile, McRae’s odes to music from our grandparents’ time make modern-day listeners nostalgic for a time that only ever really existed in Westerns and Gunslinger serials. But we don’t mind that at all.

However, this album would not be what it is without the group of local semi-regulars from McRae’s previous two solo efforts. It features Paul Pigat on upright bass, Canadian Country Hall of Fame artist Gary Fjellgard on background vocals and Stephen Nikleva on guitar and mandolin, among others. This is yet another McRae recording that has the easygoing feel of old musical pals getting together to jam for an afternoon, tell stories and reminiscence. We reap the benefits of the seeds of creativity she and her crew work diligently to sew.