Catherine Maclellan has done the folk world a bit of a favour by not only releasing her third album Water in the Ground but by also including her first album Dark Dream Midnight – two great and very different albums for fans to take in.
I listened to Dark Dream Midnight first, expecting an element of roughness and experimentation as is usually found in first albums, but I was incredibly surprised. The opening song, and title track, is as intense and dark as it’s name would suggest. The songnames show Catherine is exploring relationships, the bitter – ‘Don’t Need No one’, ‘Until one of us goes’ – and the sweet – ‘House of Love’, ‘Family Names’. She sounds as though she’s had her share of heartache and sings beautifully about it. The best track for me was ‘Until One of us Goes’- heart wrenching.
With her first album slowly making me fall for her, I was excited to hear her new venture Water in the Ground. Now the first song here is distinctly different from the first on Dark Dream Midnight, ‘Take a Break’ has a swing feel to it. That’s not to say it isn’t incredibly catchy and sweet, the difference in the sound simply caught me off guard. As the album plays on I hear more of her country side coming out. This is proper American folk, not something I usually listen to, but Catherine manages to make it accessible to any audience. Her tunes become more romantic half way through from ‘Isabel’s Song’ onwards. I have to say I prefer her more ‘girly’ melodies as they are so relatable (and pretty). My favourite, ‘Something Gold’ is authentic folk at its best.
Catherine has called upon some friends, Teresa Levassuer, Justin Rutledge and David Boxter to feature on this album and gives it a touch more variation. And variation is the best thing about this, we get the slower girly melodies for sop’s like me, then we have the spunkier tunes like ‘Gonna set this heart on fire’ for the true country lovers. I would like to think this is why she decided to include her first album, to show the world each facet of her personality. In culmination we see her darker side on Dark Dream Midnight and then her fun and romantic side on Water in The Ground. A great combination that ends with the touching vocals on ‘Flowers on your Grave’ which is bound to provoke something in even the stoniest of listeners. And that’s all we can really ask for in a great folk artist isn’t it?
Words: Kat Nicholls