03 Linda McRae

Shadow Trails
Linda McRae
Borealis Records BCD237 (lindamcrae.com)

This stirring roots/folk/country project is the inspired brainchild of Canadian vocalist/composer/multi-instrumentalist Linda McRae and her husband, retired rancher and poet, James Whitmire. The material (nearly all original) is inspired by the Nashville-based couple’s life-affirming work with incarcerated, nascent writers being held in the notorious New Folsom Prison, as well as their important work with at-risk youth – many of whom contribute moving lyrics and their personal stories to this recording. Perhaps best known as a member of the platinum-selling band Spirit of the West, McRae brings to the table her well-lived-in contralto and infallibly honest delivery. Well-produced by guitarist Steve Dawson (who also serves as frequent co-writer), each tune tells a story of love, loss, regret, poverty, isolation, injustice and also grace. In addition to Dawson and Whitmire, McRae’s talented collaborators also include bassist John Dymond, drummer Gary Craig, keyboardist Steve O’Connor and an array of guests including fiddler Fats Kaplin and Ray Bonneville on harmonica.

The music here is unflaggingly authentic, deeply satisfying, refreshingly acoustic and imbued with a big dose of soul and a skilled musicality. Of special note are Linda’s biographical reverie, Can You Hear Me Calling; also Flowers of Appalachia, with lyrics by Ken Blackburn – an inmate in New Folsom Prison who became a poet and lyricist through the Arts in Corrections program – and finally Singing River, the heartrending tale of Te-lah-nay and the dehumanizing treatment of Yuchi Native Americans and their brutal relocation away from their beloved “Singing River” in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Whether roots music is your cup of tea or not, this standout recording is a consciousness-raising journey through a challenging emotional landscape that also embraces hope and redemption.

Pin It

Back to top