Lost and Found: Kate MacLeod and Kat Eggleston Duo
Kat and Kate at the Top of Their Game, Gary Tuber, Chicago Examiner, June 27, 2011
Kat Eggleston and Kate MacLeod's newest CD, "Lost and Found," was not quite ready for distribution when the duo appeared in the Chicago area last February. Too bad, because their minions of local fans could have been enjoying this triumphant effort a lot earlier. Never mind, it's here, and available, and worth the wait.
We all know that Kat and Kate have very high standards, in their own musicianship, writing, vocals, and choice of repertoire. This newest CD proves that all over again. Performers on the CD are Kat and Kate, and that's it. Like a live performance. Not even a dulcimer. They don't need a brass section or choral vocal background. We know this, it's not news.
It appears that great care went into the choosing of songs to include on Lost and Found. There are three each of Kat Eggleston songs and Kate MacLeod songs. Five traditionals (let's see, that's 11), one by a local favorite (Andrew Calhoun's "the Living and the Breathing Wind"), one by legend Jean Ritchie ("None but One"), and "Chiquitita," an Abba song. You heard me correctly, a song recorded originally by Abba. The only difference is, Kat and Kate get it right.
Read Hank Davis' Victory Music in-depth article and interview from the duo's CD release concert in Seattle, WA.
Blooming: Sing Out Magazine, Spring Issue, 2010, Rich Warren
Kate MacLeod is one of the rare singer-songwriters that doesn't release a CD until she is good and ready, even if it's many years between releases. Blooming proves she's good and ready. You might expect a recording produced by Tim O'Brien to feature a lot of tasty picking and delicious accompaniment, and you won't be disappointed. O'Brien sings harmony vocals,along with playing guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, fiddle and banjo; Darrell Scott adds guitar, piano, pedal steel and steel guitar. Byron House provides basses and Kenny Malone percussion. All of this complements MacLeod's voice which alights on each phrase like a butterfly.
She wrote 10 of the dozen songs on this CD, co-wrote with Robert Wolf "As Far as the Heart Can See," and covers Jack Hardy's "The Inner Man," which she interprets very well. "Riding the White Horse Home," inspired by the book by Teresa Jordan, is a very involved rendering of the story of the prodigal daughter and the lost ranch. Not surprisingly, considering MacLeod lives in Utah, there's a lot of the West woven into this CD. The most moving song of the CD is "As Far as the Heart Can See," a farewell to a child leaving home. It's the best send off for which a child could hope, imbued with great parental love, as well as wishes for strength and freedom. This album, with its rich instrumental textures, beautifully floating voice and interesting songs, delivers a great deal of enjoyment.Read Hank Davis' Victory Music in-depth article and interview from the duo's CD release concert in Seattle, WA.
The Blooming crew: Byron House, Darrell Scott, Tim O'Brien, Kate MacLeod and Kenny Malone at the recording session.
Blooming: Rambles.net, John Lindermuth, January, 2010
Kate MacLeod was named among the “Ten Acts to Watch,” by editors of the MusicHound Folk Essential Album Guide. This release, her fifth studio recording, is a solid endorsement of that recommendation.
Recorded in Nashville with Grammy Award-winning musician Tim O’Brien as producer, the album features 12 tracks, all written by Kate MacLeod, except “As Far as the Heart Can See,” co-written by Kate and Robert K. Wolf, and “The Inner Man,” a Jack Hardy composition.
In keeping with folk tradition, these are story-songs. But they are presented in a variety of musical styles, ranging from folk to pop and country. There’s more than a little bow to country in this collection with its emphasis on love, loss and hope. A distinctly western theme is apparent in such tracks as “Riding the White Horse Home (inspired by a novel of the same name by Teresa Jordan),” “My Teton Home” and “Return to Rawlins.”
Optimism is the theme in a number of the songs with the sense expressed nowhere more clearly than in the title track where she sings, “I have loved and lost before, but still believe in springtime. Everything is blooming, blooming, don’t go.”
She has a warm and poetic style in both her singing and playing. Though some of the songs are poignant, there’s understated humor in unexpected places such as the chorus of “Return to Rawlins” where she speaks of friends missing “My good looks, my wit, and my charm” or in verses of “A Smile Worth a Million.”
A performer, studio musician and teacher as well as composer, Kate MacLeod is an artist who deserves a wider audience. You may not know her by name but you’ve most likely heard some of her songs on NPR and performed by other artists such as folk singer Mollie O’Brien (Tim’s sister) and the bluegrass band Loose Ties. She performs regularly on stage and at festivals across the U.S. and abroad.
This is a strong collection with back up from some talented friends. Kate is featured on vocals and acoustic guitar. She’s backed by Tim O’Brien, harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo and fiddle; Darrell Scott, acoustic, electric and steel guitar, piano and pedal steel; Byron House, acoustic and electric bass, and Kenny Malone, percussion.
Blooming: Utah Singer-Songwriter Kate MacLeod's New Record Produced by Nashville Pros
By David Burger, The Salt Lake Tribune, 09/24/2009
Thirty years ago, Kate MacLeod moved to Salt Lake City to study at the Violin-Making School of America. So what was she doing playing guitar with Grammy-winning bluegrass and country musician Tim O'Brien in Nashville earlier this year? MacLeod was recording her new contemporary folk album, "Blooming," a gorgeous, spellbinding album produced by the acclaimed O'Brien and played by a group of experienced Nashville session musicians that makes "Blooming" one of the best collections of songs made by a local musician in 2009. The Salt Lake City-based MacLeod will celebrate the new Americana album with a record-release party this weekend at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.
"Wow" was what MacLeod recalled.
Kate MacLeod, with producer Tim O'Brien, working on her new album "Blooming."
saying when O'Brien, an old but busy friend, agreed to produce her record using musicians he regularly works with. "They have a very wide experience with traditional as well as contemporary music," she said in an interview. "These guys are the specialists."
With MacLeod singing and on acoustic guitar, O'Brien not only produced but sang harmony vocals and played acoustic guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo and fiddle on the album. He brought in Darrell Scott, Byron House and Kenny Malone, and they recorded the 12 songs in four days in a Nashville studio. "I was quite impressed with her material," said O'Brien in an interview. "She's a real songwriter. It's part of her life. It's intrinsic to her being. It's a pure art form, what she does."
Classically trained in the violin, MacLeod grew up in Washington, D.C., before relocating to Utah to study at the Violin-Making School of America, where she ended up working for 10 years. She has since studied other musical genres, including traditional music of North America and the British Isles, lending her acoustic-driven music a taste of Celtic influence. With a multioctave voice reminiscent of Emmylou Harris, MacLeod has become an established solo musician woven into the rich local tapestry in town; among other activities, she is an integral member of Red Rock Rondo, the sextet led by Phillip Bimstein that performed an award-winning Zion Canyon song cycle last year that was featured in a PBS documentary.
'Blooming' is such a great title for Kate's CD because there's a fresh, radiant quality to everything she does -- especially her music," said Bimstein. "Kate is a warm, wonderful songwriter. I love the way her melodies twine around her chord changes like graceful vines -- perfect vehicles for her searching lyrics full of memories and dreams. Kate has a generosity of spirit that shines right through."
"There is a certain grace that emanates from Kate when she performs," said Jeff Whiteley, producer of the local Excellence in the Community Series, which will present Red Rock Rondo on Nov. 14 at the Grand Theatre at Salt Lake Community College. "She might have been a dancer, maybe that's it; but on other levels, too, she seems physically and emotionally linked to the music she is playing. Through the Excellence concerts, I have seen her in different settings with different musicians and playing different styles of music, but always that note of authenticity and love for what she is doing comes through."
MacLeod got to know O'Brien when his sister Molly decided to perform some of MacLeod's songs. Impressed with her talent, he said, he told MacLeod that in the future he'd like to produce her. That time came earlier this year. "I didn't have any trepidation because it can't hurt to ask," she said about calling O'Brien, who in 2005 won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album for "Fiddler's Green." A bonus to enlisting O'Brien was getting to work with some of the best session musicians in Nashville. "I had never met them before," said MacLeod. "If Tim hadn't been in on it, they probably wouldn't have returned my calls." Scott has performed on songs by Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Randy Travis and Patty Loveless and has written songs performed by Suzy Bogguss, Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Kathy Mattea and The Dixie Chicks, while House was nominated for Best Country Instrumental Performance at the 2005 Grammys. Malone has performed on albums by Béla Fleck and Alison Krauss. Catch MacLeod at the record-release party because she will soon embark on a tour of the Midwest. But don't worry. She'll be back, because Washington, D.C., and Nashville are not her home.
Blooming: Kate MacLeod blossoms on 'Blooming'
By Linda East Brady (Standard-Examiner staff)
Salt Lake City-based singer/songwriter Kate MacLeod has explored many styles over her many years in the music business -- acoustic folk, folk rock, pop, country, Americana and amalgamations of all of the above. On "Blooming," her 10th release, MacLeod delves into most of these categories, delivering a strong CD with help from some very talented friends.
MacLeod called on Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/producer Tim O'Brien to helm the album. O'Brien also put together a crack studio backup band, including himself on backing vocals, guitars, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo and fiddle, as well as Darrell Scott on guitars and piano, Byron House on bass and Kenny Malone on percussion. MacLeod sings lead and plays guitar, with O'Brien and company lending a clean yet warm and earthy sound to her music. MacLeod wrote or co-wrote 11 of the 12 songs on "Blooming."
The album is an engaging listen start to finish. A standout is the twang-touched optimistic tune called "A Smile Worth a Million," which talks of appreciating the path taken, rather than the regret of the one not ventured.
Another song, a tender waltz-timed tune called "Return to Rawlins," looks at someone forced to stay put. Anyone who has dared to travel Wyoming's stretch of Interstate 80 in the winter months, where passers-through and natives alike often have to wait for the roads to clear, will relate. The song's character wants to travel, but has roots in that cold country:
"I know that I'm better than the mud on my leather/ And I'd like to go traveling and to give my regards/ To a star-lit town where I could go far/ with my good looks, my wit, and my charm/ But who'd keep an eye on the dreams of my darling/ And who'd keep an eye on my friends in a storm ..."
Though it's hard to single out the best overall song, it might be "Something Left You Living," with a folk-rock swing and captivating, slightly cryptic lyrics as well as fine harmony vocals.
Even the album cover art is a thing of beauty suiting the mood, with a William Matthews painting of a purple prickly pear in bloom. But there is definitely nothing prickly about MacLeod's latest. For those who love well-crafted, comfortable music with folkie flair, "Blooming" is a sweet Western treat.
No Depression.com - Flyinshoes Reviews Group, January 2010 (by Maurice Hope, UK)
Americana singer-songwriter Kate MacLeod makes interesting music, a finely spun mix of folk and country music tinged with hints of pop, and when she kicks off her shoes to rattle along at a quicker tempo she is of another class. That isn’t to say her more studious, inner looking songs aren’t good. They are. But it is on the songs possessing a greater feel of freedom and free abandon that Kate instantly appeals. With her voice bearing on one or two occasions to East coast singer-songwriter, Lucy Kaplansky (‘The Day Is Mine’) MacLeod’s songs tend to be mellow, low-key affairs. Songs that need to be heard a few times for the listener to become fully attuned to the mood and appreciate fully, her lyrics. She writes some beautiful ones too, you just need to take a listen to ‘Where the Magic Happens’, what a glories piece of work. My first introduction to MacLeod’s songwriting was when Mollie O’Brien, sister of Tim included Kate’s ‘Lark In The Morning’ and ‘Alaska’ on her Sugar Hill album in 1996, Tell It True —and, boy aren’t they wonderful songs!
As you would expect an excellent set of players are assembled by producer, Tim O’Brien, who himself plays acoustic guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, fiddle and also lends harmony vocal support. As for the other players you have Darrell Scott (acoustic, electric and pedal steel guitar and piano), Kenny Malone (percussion) and Byron House on acoustic and electric bass help guide the work of the Utah-based MacLeod home.
Running through the songs apart from a hint of Kaplansky there is also some of the plaintive and pureness of early Joni Mitchell in evidence on the excellent and sharp ‘Where The Magic Happens’. The beauty of her lyrics underpinned by fine work on acoustic guitar and piano, bouzouki and percussion, as for beautiful lyrics ‘Riding The White Horse Home’ that evokes the wide-open spaces of the prairie is terrific. Her style of writing and the beauty of the imagery isn’t too far removed from that of the late, Kate Wolf. Smooth, and of a reflective nature the fiddle, harmony vocals warmed ‘Road To Heaven’ is steeped in wisdom and astute philosophy gained by her deep trawling of the soul.
After a gentle, coercing opening, ‘Branded Heart’ builds in a graceful and quite forceful fashion as stellar accompaniment of piano, steel and acoustic guitar plus the crucial harmony vocals of O‘Brien help it create a rare and beautiful magic of its own. Then we have a couple of average sounding songs by her standard that tend to drift without gripping me as some do, before she digs a little deeper to reap the dividends of her efforts on ‘Return To Rawlins’. Another song where mellow piano and O’Brien’s fine harmony vocals are the main ingredient alongside her sweet, tender vocals.
Fellow singer-songwriter Jack Hardy’s ‘The Inner Man’ is given a timely cover. An inspired choice by MacLeod, it lends a welcome lilt to the tempo of the album that is carried forward to the pedal steel doused country tune ‘A Smile Worth A Million’.
A slightly more varied in tempo on a couple of songs would have given Blooming a better opportunity to reach the heart and mind of the listener quicker —but, who am I to criticize Kate’s genuine and often as not excellent efforts.
Breakfast, Kate MacLeod and the Pancakes
(Waterbug Records, 2005) David Kidman, netrhythms.co.uk reviews, 2006
Breakfast is seen as somewhat of a departure from Kate's previous (solo) record, Feel The Earth Spin, in the obvious sense that it features a full-ish band sound rather than a pared-down setting (though when I say band, I mean just guitar, bass and drums, courtesy of Mark Hazel, Barry Carter and Cliff Smith, respectively). But Breakfast isn't as radical a departure in the sense that it's still a showcase for Kate's beautiful and melodious singing, which is well to the fore and given ample room to breathe by the uncomplicated, played-as-live arrangements. It all sounds really good, satisfyingly balanced while remaining acutely listener-friendly; and there's a kind of early-Fairport feel about the proceedings, not least in the way that Kate doesn't hog all the limelight (Mark takes the lead vocal on "Whole World Round" and "No More Cane," and duets with Kate on Jack Hardy's delicious "Forget Me Nots" and Dylan's "Time Passes Slowly"). And Kate's well-regarded instrumental skills on fiddle, acoustic and electric guitar and harmonica are satisfyingly represented in the mix too. As far as repertoire goes, out of the thirteen tracks here, no less than six of the songs have their sources in tradition (American and British), and they're blessed with sensible acoustic folk-rock arrangements which don't threaten to overwhelm (I particularly liked what Kate does with "The Greenwood Side"), and some are mighty tasty to boot (like the sparring harmonica and fiddle work on "Whole World Round"). My only small reservation among those six is "No More Cane," which I feel is way too smooth for the worksong/holler vibe of the original. Five of Kate's songs complete the set-list; these are every bit as poetic and literate as we've come to expect from Kate, with a relaxed and contentedly reflective quality, the finest of these new songs perhaps being "Autumn" and "Love Is Gone." The five originals also include a new arrangement of "Potter's Wheel" (previously heard on Feel The Earth Spin). Kate's vibrant and perennially attractive writing style, combined with her skill in making traditional material come up fresh in these new band arrangements, makes Breakfast a very winning release indeed, which I actually much prefer to some of the more-lauded folk-rock ventures of recent years.
Breakfast: Mike Regenstreif, Sing Out!, Fall 2005, Kate MacLeod and the Pancakes
On this album, recorded in 2000 but unreleased until 2005, Utah-based folk singer and songwriter MacLeod is fronting an ensemble whose approach might be best described as gentle folk-rock. They present a tasteful mixture of five of MacLeod's original songs, six traditional songs and a couple of songs borrowed from other contemporary writers. They open with MacLeod's "Thirst Quencher," an almost incidental song that compares life to a nice summer day. She follows with "Potter's Wheel," previously heard on Feel the Earth Spin, her 2001 album, a metaphorical piece about determining what's truly important in life. The best of MacLeod's original songs is "Autumn," a poetic love song shrouded in images of the changing seasons.
Highlights among the traditional songs include a mid-tempo arrangement of "Handsome Molly" and an intense reading of "Prodigal Son." On these songs, MacLeod reminds us that in addition to being a compelling singer, she's also a very fine fiddler. She also sings a version of "The Greenwood Side," in which the Pancakes show us that a folk-rock arrangement needn't overpower the story in a traditional ballad. A couple of the traditional songs, "No More Cane" and "Whole World Round," feature lead vocals from Pancakes' guitarist Mark Hazel. MacLeod's harmonies and fiddling on the latter song are haunting.
MacLeod also includes very nice versions of Jack Hardy's "Forget Me Nots" and Bob Dylan's "Time Passes Slowly" that fit nicely with the original and traditional songs. In addition to the fiddle, MacLeod plays guitar, both acoustic and electric, and is complemented by Hazel, Barry Carter on bass and Cliff Smith on drums and percussion.
Breakfast: Roots Music Report (online), May 2005, Kate MacLeod and the Pancakes
This album is just awesome. Kate MacLeod presents her music as well as any has been presented. A little bit of everything on this CD. Kate's music is honest and she delivers her message true and clear. This is out of the ordinary folk music. Unique and produced with expertise. This release will not be taken for granted by any folk music lover. An outstanding project by Kate and The Pancakes.
Breakfast: Salt Lake City Weekly, October 7, 2004, Kate MacLeod and the Pancakes, by Randy Harward
"Highlander Kate MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod serves up Breakfast with Pancakes."
There can only be one Kate MacLeod. The play on the famous quote from the movie Highlander would explain the singer-songwriter-instrumentalist's where-abouts - where she's been, where she is, and where she's going. She also shares her name with the film's immortal headhunter, Conner MacLeod. So is she Kate MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod?
"I guess so" she says. "When I do an [internet] search for my name, the computer pulls up all kinds of narrations of my romance with Conner, or whoever I'm supposed to be involved with. I just can't keep up with it all."
She married into the name at 19, but some of her music-business friends kid about a correlation between Kate and Conner. MacLeod says it's usually because she can sometimes read their minds, and it spooks them. "I don't mean to," she says sheepishly.
Her spookiness might be perceived from her mellow mannerisms, or the fact that she has a supernatural ability to handle a frightening workload. As a day gig she gives an average of 25 private music lessons (fiddle/violin and guitar) weekly, and somewhere in between finds room for a separate music career.
MacLeod has released several albums over the years, recorded with local Celtic band Shanahy, done copious studio work, and played numerous folk festivals around the country. She's also guest fiddled with The Chieftans, toured Europe, and garnered an armload of accolades from City Weekly on up to the Utah Arts Council and had her music played on NPR.
So, spooky, yes; immortal headhunter, no. Yet, she has ostensibly lived a Highlander's existence since 2002, not appearing at clubs as much as before. And her soon-to-be-released album, Breakfast (http://www.katemacleod.com), took Mrs. Butterworth's own sweet time to make. It's like she was lying low, awaiting the next battle. Of course, it's simpler-and the self-effacing MacLeod might say less exciting-than that.
"I am a homebody-slash-recovering-mother-of-three-slash-artist that likes to create, which takes a lot of private time... [and I'm that] type of person." She furthers that she is not very ambitious, business-wise ("It's not my forte") and that she has been traveling. Her career is an extension of her belief system, which incorporates simplicity of lifestyle, humility, family and other things that contradict a high profile. She says she is simply "practicing, trying to become a better musician."
This brings us to Breakfast, which was recorded over three days in 2000, but was delayed for myriad reasons-money, timing, label issues, mixing, remixing.
The album is properly attributed to Kate MacLeod and The Pancakes (her not-so new band featuring singer-guitarist Mark Hazel-who handles lead vocals on two tracks-as well as bassist Barry Carter and drummer Cliff Smith), the album is less the bluegrassey/Celtic folk of her prior albums, and more the full-band singer-songwriter's Americana. Her melliflous voice and literate lyrics are unchanged, as are her virtuosic fiddling, but the songs are more vibrant, less ethereal than before-one might even venture to call it rock. But MacLeod insists it's still the same style, just differently presented.
"A song can be performed or recorded in so many ways," she says. "And the typical 'folk' label that I am always cast into seems such a limited and misunderstood genre to me. I am a songwriter first.
"I love this recording. This album is very important to me for a few reasons. I recorded with these friends of mine, which is more meaningful to me than working on my own all of the time."
So does it foreshadow a follow-up album? If people like the Pancakes for Breakfast, can we expect a second helping? "There might be 'lunch' served someday. Right now our skills are about on the pancake level."
Drawn from the Well: Kate MacLeod & Kate Eggleston
(Wind River/Folk Era Records 2002) Rich Warren, Sing Out!, Spring 2003
Don't awaken me if I am dreaming the Kate and Kate, together, recorded this heavenly CD of traditional and original songs. Two expressive but distinctly different voices twine around their favorite songs, songs that have influenced their own compositions along with some of their original favorites. MacLeod's more ethereal voice weaves in and out of Eggleston's more earthy tones, while singing their way through seven songs. MacLeod plays guitar and violin, while Egleston plays guitar and hammered dulcimer. They bow, hammer, pluck and pick their way through five instrumentals. The CD opens with their entwining, enticing harmonies singing "Good Ship in Order." The title instrumental, composed by Eggleston, hauntingly follows. They sing MacLeod's original fishing song, "The Annual Menhaden," and the reflection on capitol punishment "Tom Egan" that tells of a man wrongly executed for a murder he did not commit back in 1882. They sing Eggleston's dark "Measure for Measure," and the brighter "Go to the Water." This rendition of the latter song is better than the one on Eggleston's own CD. Their acappella version of the traditional "The Two Sisters" is a stunner. They chose a particularly beautiful variant to wrap their voices around. Had this arrived in time, I would certainly have chosen it as one of my favorites of 2002.
Feel the Earth Spin: Kate MacLeod
(Wind River/Folk Era Records 2001) David Kidman, netrhythms.co.uk reviews, 2006
Smart and vibrant singer-songwriter Kate has shifted the focus a little for this, her third album release (it follows on the two she made for her mentor Andrew Calhoun's excellent Waterbug label, Trying To Get It Right and Constant Emotion, released in 1995 and 1997 respectively). On Feel The Earth Spin, Kate's avowed intent was to make a recording in response to those who said they like to hear her sing her songs all by herself, just like in the kitchen. I wouldn't take that as a criticism that her earlier albums were in any way over-produced, for they proved creditable examples of sensitively-accompanied singer-songwriter product. Feel The Earth Spin is thus a commendably honest record, atmospheric and uncomplicated, with Kate playing guitars (acoustic and occasional electric) and a little violin and harmonica backup; at the time of writing her own liner note, Kate was unsure what to think of it, but it seems to capture the essence of Kate's writing on a well-planned sequence of songs that includes just one non-original (Mary McCaslin's "Way Out West"). Strong and inspired it is too, as evidenced by "The Annual Menhaden", a latter-day paean to the east-coast fishing community harvesting the small fry, and the poignant poeticality of "My Baby Leaving" and "Shadow Changes"; then the curious melodic sweep and emotional ambivalence of "Cliffhanger" might appear to carry resonances of Richard Thompson. Well, maybe at times there's also a slightly elusive quality to her lyrics, despite their basic immediacy and their attractive economy of expression. Perhaps, too, her songs are best viewed as snapshots rather than linear narratives - like these no-frills recordings in fact. Kate's delivery is really entrancing - her wispy phrasing and ethereal tone is pitched just right for the material. By any standards, Kate should count this release a success.
Feel the Earth Spin: Remo Ricaldone / May 5, 2002 / www.americanwest.it (Italy)
(Thanks to Cristina Amat di San Filippo for her Italian-to-English translation assistance.)
Singer Kate MacLeod's third CD, "Feel the Earth Spin," marks her return after almost four years since her previous album. After two CDs on which she performed with a restrained but very accomplished group of accompanying musicians (John Magnie (from The Subdudes), on her first CD, "Trying to Get It Right," and Peter Rowan, Sally Van Meter and (from Hot Rize) Charles Sawtelle on the second CD, "Constant Emotion"), Kate MacLeod then chose the brave path to sing alone and play all instruments--acoustic and electric guitars, violin and harmonica--by herself. The first obvious comparison one could make is with the female folk tradition from the '60s until today that has written pages very important in the book of American "roots" music. From Carolyn Hester to Buffy St. Marie, and from early Joni Mitchell to Kate Wolf, comparisons with Kate MacLeod are not risky nor misplaced. The songs of "Feel the Earth Spin" are delicious acoustic paintings, from which radiate a very deep love for nature and a delicate psychological introspection. Her warm voice modulates and carries us into a world where the images are immersed in inspiration that is sometimes dreamy and sometimes melancholy but that is always particularly interesting. Due to the specific musical and lyrical structure, this CD needs deliberate listening in order to understand all its particular nuances. From the beginning song, "Potter's Wheel," in which the acoustic guitar's bass notes are joined with great intensity by the electric guitar, to the cover song "Way Out West" by Mary McCaslin (the only cover song on the CD), in which the poetry is like crystal beauty, the music of Kate MacLeod travels across fascinating feelings. In "My Baby Leaving" and in "Revelation #1," an evocative violin breaks out that creates a further connection with the folk tradition, a connection that is present throughout this recording. "Wild Birds" "My Unclaimed Love," "My Beautiful Flowers" and "Winter Love" confirm Kate MacLeod's very, very good composing and interpretive talents, that have brought her to be fairly well known in the American Folk circuit. "Feel the Earth Spin" is one of the recordings that you have to take time to listen to in order to appreciate it carefully and not miss any of the nuances so important in the music of a singer-songwriter like Kate MacLeod.
Kate MacLeod - Feel the Earth Spin - Wind River WR4020CD
"I like to hear you sing your songs all by yourself, just like you do in your kitchen." is het motto van deze sobere akoestische plaat van "folkie" Kate MacLeod. Zij groide op in Washington, DC, maar vestigde zich in 1979 in de staat Utah. Zij leerde daar het ambacht om violen te maken. Via haar vriendje Charles Sawtelle, gitarist van de bluegrassformatie Hot Rize raakte zij nog meer in de ban de muziek en dat leidde in de jaren 90 tot de release van 2 soloalbums voor het Waterbug Records-label te Oregon. Behalve in haar eigan band is zij geruime tijd als violiste actief in de plaatselijke Keltische band Shanahy. De 12 songs op deze nieuwe plaat zijn - op een na - allemaal door Kate geschreven. Zij speelt alle instrumenten (gitaar, viool en mondharmonica) zelf. De sobere muzikale omlijsting komt prima tot zijn recht bij de fraaie liedjes die MacLeod de luisteraar voorschotelt. De sfeer van het album doet enigszins denken aan de folkklassieker Blue van Joni Mitchell. Haar zang wordt door de pers regelmatig geassocieerd met die van Nanci Griffith, maar ik kan de gelijkenis niet echt ontdekken. Kate heeft een fraaie - beetje trillende - folkstem. Haar teksten gaan vooral over de liefde waarbij zij beelden uit de mooie natuur gebruikt. Luistar maar eens naar Beautiful Flowers en Winter Love. Als enige cover heeft Kate gekozen voor de bewerking van de verhalende Mary McCaslin-song Way Out West. De song die het meest opvalt is Cliffhanger. Een hele bijzondere melodie met vreemde 'breaks'. Gelukkig zijn de fraaie teksten un het cd-boekje terug te vinden, zodat je dit luisteralbum goed kunt volgen.
Feel the Earth Spin: Dirty Linen, June-July 2002, Michael Parrish
For her third solo CD, Kate MacLeod went it alone, choosing to play all the instruments (acoustic and electric guitars, fiddle, harmonica) and taking the producer's helm, which was occupied on her first two outings by the late Charles Sawtelle. The 10 originals reveal MacLeod's uncanny ability to bring the feel of the outdoors into her songs, whether it is a vivid image of a panhandler on a reservation (in "Beautiful Flowers," which MacLeod dedicated to Sawtelle), or the bleak chill of cold weather ("Winter Love"). The generally stark tone of this CD is enlivened by some tasty lead electric guitar on a few tunes, notably the vivid "Potter's Wheel," which puts the lyricist in the role of some clay as it is transformed from ground into a finished pot. The sole cover on the CD is a slow, elegant version of Mary McCaslin's "Way Out West." This is a quiet, intimate recording that bears repeated listenings.
A.P., Sing Out!, Spring 2002, Vol. 46 #1, page 135
This is Kate's third CD. Here she cleverly highlights her own backup talents by providing all the backing herself, making the release totally Kate. She calls it an "honest" recording and except for the fact she couldn't play everything you hear at the same time, it is. She plays a 1994 Lawrence Smart, and '47 Martin, a '61 Electric Epiphone Sorrento Hollowbody, a 1993 Kurt Jones violin, and harmonica.
A fan of open tuning, she covers Mary McCaslin's "Way Out West," which is perfect for her sliding airy vocals. No stranger to festivals out west, she moved there from Maryland. She admits that there are not as many performance possibilities in Utah but she has been teaching the building and playing of instruments in that area for over a decade now. Working both solo and in bands her musical experience covers Celtic, bluegrass, and traditional.
This experienced luthier shows the enduring qualities of musical and lyrical simplicity. A beautiful example of this lies in a piece written in honor of the late Charles Sawtelle.
There are no fast raucous numbers, just thoughts of sitting in one place watching the sunrise or releasing worry over things that don't really matter. Feel the Earth Spin is peaceful music that showcases Kate's abilities at arrangement, accompaniment and performance.
Roots Town Music Free-zine, Belgium, March 17, 2002, Paul Jonker
Excerpted translated quotes:
"The sober musical setting works real fine for the beautiful songs that Kate offers us."
"The atmosphere of the album made me think of the classic Blue by Joni Mitchell."
Feel the Earth Spin: Barry Scholl, The Catalyst, Salt Lake City, November 2001
MacLeod is a justifiably celebrated singer/songwriter who here goes it entirely alone via the magic of the recording studio, contributing all vocals, guitars, violin and harmonica. Although true "solo" albums are often faulted for their lack of organic interplay, that isn't a problem here; MacLeod's songs are built around a solid core of arpeggiated guitar and her plaintive voice. One has no problem imagining these highly personal songs in a solo guitar and voice setting, without the additional filigree.
Still reeling from world events, I found myself sitting on my back patio in Torrey, watching the light flicker on the yellow leaves of distant cottonwoods as the autumn sun advances by degrees, and returning again and again to "Wild Birds," "Shadow Changes," and "Winter Love." These are unhurried, spacious and haunting - the perfect soundtrack for these uncertain times.
Citing familiar comparisons is an occupational hazard of critics - and often an irresistible temptation, as well - but here goes. In places, MacLeod sounds a bit like Nanci Griffith (without the cloying cuteness) and in others like Natalie Merchant (minus the grandstanding). A first-rate collection.
Feel the Earth Spin: Richard Middleton, Victory Review, Vol. 27, No. 2, February, 2002
Kate MacLeod's songs are subtle, personal, and complex, and don't tell their secrets casually. Their melodies unfold slowly and their quiet epiphanies often leave us with more questions than answers. Which is to say, they're good. MacLeod's music has the strength and delicacy of the folk traditions she draws upon, and yet it remains fresh and ever capable of surprises. She has a distinctive, soft-spoken singing style and a gift for interpretation, both of her own songs and those of others (e.g. her sensitive reading of Mary McCaslin's "Way Out West"). She's also a talented instrumentalist, accompanying herself here on acoustic and electric guitars, violin, and harmonica, creating multi-layered, rhythmic arrangements that are simple and spacious, leaving ample room for her voice and the listener's imagination. Highlights are the gently rocking "Potter's Wheel," the slightly unstable "Cliffhanger," the evocative imagery of "Shadow Changes," and the intimacy and vulnerability of "Revelation #1." A mature and satisfying collection. Recommended.
Constant Emotion, Kate MacLeod
(Waterbug Records WBG0032, 1997) Alex Henderson, allmusic.com review, 2005
One of the things that made the '90s folk scene strong was its diversity. At one end of the folk spectrum, you had the tough, hard-edged, Bob Dylan-influenced anti-folk of Lach and Adam Brodsky, and at the opposite end, you had the pastoral, gently reflective folk-pop of Kate MacLeod. The Salt Lake City-based singer/songwriter/acoustic guitarist thrives on subtlety on Constant Emotion, her second album. This fine sophomore effort lives up to the promise of her debut album, Trying to Get It Right, and MacLeod's writing is undeniably strong on originals that range from the haunting "Long Ride Home" to the moving "My Forsaken Love" and the sunny, sweetly optimistic "Talkin' About Good News." If you find yourself feeling jaded, pessimistic or bitter, "Talkin' About Good News" is a great song to listen to because it provides just the opposite perspective. But before you start thinking that MacLeod is incurably Pollyanna-ish, check out "Adam," a disturbing number that describes an unbalanced religious extremist who ends up in prison. Without hitting you over the head, "Adam" tells the character's story quite effectively. The only song on the CD that MacLeod didn't write or co-write is Buffy St. Marie's "The Pineywood Hills," which she interprets with appealing results. Like Trying to Get It Right, Constant Emotion made one wish that MacLeod were better known.
Constant Emotion: Steve Givens, Acoustic Guitar, January 1999
Evoking Nanci Griffith's voice and exhibiting an evident reverence for traditional music, Utah-based singer-songwriter (and guitarist and fiddler) MacLeod offers up a helping of home-grown tunes designed to warm the heart and celebrate home and hearth. This is folk music with no pretense of being anything else. It would be equally at home in a coffeehouse or around a crackling fire. Peter Rowan's background vocals on a few of the songs add a nice exclamation mark to this collection of new Americana.
Constant Emotion: Popcorn Music Review, Internet, August 1998
I normally wouldn't plug an all-acoustic folk album on which drums are largely absent. All that testosterone coursing through my veins makes me crave a steady beat. But Kate MacLeod's Constant Emotion is so lyrically and instrumentally appealing, I have no choice but to recommend it. MacLeod is a positive thinker, but she arrives at her optimistic state through careful reasoning. Constant Emotion is mellow, feminine, philosophical, and subtly captivating. Singer-songwriter MacLeod is a Salt Lake City resident whose voice sounds like Nanci Griffith's. She's joined here by some talented bluegrass and folk accompanists, including Pete Rowan (vocals), Matt Flinner (guitar, mandolin, banjo, bouzouki), and Barry Carter (acoustic bass guitar). The song "Adam" (about a religious fanatic) deserves to be a folk classic. Constant Emotion offers bucolic acoustic music with smart lyrics about love and other emotion. If you're searching for something mellow and intelligent, check it out.
Constant Emotion: Dirty Linen, Issue #74, February/March 1998
Though this disc is titled Constant Emotion, it could just as easily have been called constant vision. Kate MacLeod has a distinct voice as a writer, whether she's talking of the uncertainties of love or the simple joys of having six new strings on the guitar. She can comment on the life of a crazy man of the mountains and rework the ballad "Child on the Road" with equal skill. Though she deals with the darker aspects of life, there's a respect for and an insight into the lives of those she writes about that grounds all her work in hope, even if that idea isn't directly expressed. If you enjoy the music of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Claire Lynch or Nanci Griffith, then you should give MacLeod a listen.
Constant Emotion: Eric Fidler, Associated Press, December 1997
Kate MacLeod's second album shows her to be one of the leading lights of the contemporary folk scene, even if most of that scene doesn't realize it yet. MacLeod has a direct way with a song, forgoing literary pretensions for clarity and simple truths. And while her songs often reveal an optimistic view of life, she's quite capable of a heartbreaking ballad, as "My Forsaken Love" proves. Interesting instrumentation, such as tablas and bouzouki, add to the attraction of this sparkling album, which is easily one of the top folk releases of the year.
Matthew Lawton, Totally Adult, "American Roots", October 1997
If you could combine Nanci Griffith with Emmylou Harris, you'd end up with Kate MacLeod. Constant Emotion is MacLeod's second album and consists of eleven original compositions and a cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "The Piney Wood Hills." MacLeod's songs run the gamut of religious fanatics (Adam), recovering alcoholics (Second Chance at Romance) and train rides back home (Long Ride Home). Peter Rowan adds his vocals to many of the tracks and, with the instrumentation of guitar, mandolin, bouzouki and tabla, Constant Emotion is in constant motion. This is an album of wonderful songs and stunning melodies delivered by MacLeod's beautiful voice.
Trying to Get it Right: Michael Parrish, Dirty Linen, Oct.-Nov 1995, issue #60
Utah singer-songwriter Kate MacLeod makes an impressive debut with Trying to Get It Right. MacLeod is blessed with a wonderfully expressive voice, a clear, resonant alto with echoes of early Nanci Griffith, and she uses it to full effect with inventive phrasing and sparing use of a letter perfect vibrato. She is also an accomplished songwriter, with a remarkable range. "Pawn Shop Man" is a measured celebration of an uncomplicated life, "Alabama Midwife" is a vivid portrait of a tough life led by an equally tough old lady. The elegant "Lark in the Morning" captures the pain of holding on after a lover's departure. Her novellic "PrairyErth" explores the spooky majesty of the great plains. Beautifully produced by guitarist Charles Sawtelle, MacLeod's CD features an all-star backup band which includes Suagarbeat's Matt Flinner on fretted things, The Subdudes' John Magnie on keyboards, and Mark Diamond on bass. On Trying to Get It Right, Kate MacLeod succeeds in doing just that.
Trying to Get it Right: Rich Warren, Sing Out!, 1995
Sometimes it's dangerous for an artist to sequence a killer song first as MacLeod has with her title song. This unrequited love song, based very loosely on the traditional song of the same title, grabs you with its enchanting melody, poetic images and sublime production and keeps you pressing the "repeat" key. Matt Flinner's tenor guitar and "dismantled banjo," as well as MacLeod's own picking, really create a masterpiece. That's not to overlook the other ten original and one Jean Ritchie songs on the recording. A folk-oriented sound pervades this album with tastefully acoustic production. MacLeod tells some interesting tales, such as "Angels On My Mind," the true story of a miner who was home sick the day his mine caught fire. William Least Heat Moon inspired "PrairyErth," a stirring ecological journey. MacLeod also sings of welfare and midwives, and in the delightful "Play the Piano with Style" tells a slice-of-life tale about her uncle. She accompanies herself on old-timey fiddle on "Gospel Songs," evoking a sense of community in gospel singing. She concludes with Ritchie's "None but One," a perfect bookend to the opening "Lark," in a nifty, nimble guitar and bouzouki arrangement. By all means, give MacLeod a listen.