Hard to believe it's been 20 years since the first McGarrigle album. Maybe it's because they've always floated so much on the fringe of things--not quite folk, not quite country, not quite fitting into any pigeonhole beyon... more »d lovely songwriting, harmonies, and singing. And now they're at it again with Matapedia, which includes the gorgeous "Goin' Back to Harlan" (recently covered by Emmylou), and tales of lives going by. This is the kind of music that should be made by (some) mature adults--thoughtful, often introspective, but with a joy in the passage of time. All the musical crap that seems to dog so much that's tagged as "adult"--which you could also call easy listening--has been filtered out by quality control, leaving arrangements that are lean, often sparse, and muscular, hitting middle age without any flab showing, but synapses still clicking furiously. Oh yes, and it's the perfect choice for those rainy fall days. --Chris Nickson« less
Hard to believe it's been 20 years since the first McGarrigle album. Maybe it's because they've always floated so much on the fringe of things--not quite folk, not quite country, not quite fitting into any pigeonhole beyond lovely songwriting, harmonies, and singing. And now they're at it again with Matapedia, which includes the gorgeous "Goin' Back to Harlan" (recently covered by Emmylou), and tales of lives going by. This is the kind of music that should be made by (some) mature adults--thoughtful, often introspective, but with a joy in the passage of time. All the musical crap that seems to dog so much that's tagged as "adult"--which you could also call easy listening--has been filtered out by quality control, leaving arrangements that are lean, often sparse, and muscular, hitting middle age without any flab showing, but synapses still clicking furiously. Oh yes, and it's the perfect choice for those rainy fall days. --Chris Nickson
CONRAD S. (conrad777) from ENGLEWD CLFS, NJ Reviewed on 7/22/2007...
A great album. "Why must we Die" gives me goosebumps.
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Wonderful Folk Album By The Great Canadian Folk Duo!
Barron Laycock | Temple, New Hampshire United States | 07/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""He put his big, middle-aged hands on her shoulders/ And he looked her in the eye/ Just like a boy of nineteen would do/ But she was not afraid/ She was not afraid". With this opening title song recalling first love, enduring memories, and intergenerational continuities, this is a wonderful, winsome, and worthwhile album by the incredibly durable singing sisters of folk music, Canadians Kate and Anna McGarricle. This first song, "Matapedia", is an interesting and evocative ballad that is easily one of the best single popular folk songs ever written, with an appealing upbeat tempo, a lovely melody, and some literally unforgettable lyrics. In recalling her own formative years and comparing them to her young daughter Martha, she reveals the continuities, consistencies, and character linking each member of the family to each other, and also weaves a wistful love-lost counter theme between the lines. As a middle aged guy who still feels sometime like he's nineteen, I can tell you that my first hearing of the song left me emotionally moved, and I think it likely has the same effect on a lot of listeners. The balance of the album is typical fare for the two veteran folk singers who been around a while; wide-ranging, thoughtful, and insightful. And while the work at first listening will seem a bit uneven, it is all great stuff. This is an album one had to warm up to by listening to it a number of times, much like some of Eric Andersen's or Dave Mallett's terrific work. This is not meant as a criticism, but as a guide for those listeners who are expecting something else. If you have heard some of their timeless music, you will understand. If not, you are in for a real treat. Herein they explore the Pandora's Box of all the pitfalls of human emotion, delving into the lasting effects of heartache, life experience, and changes along the way. Listen to the first cut, calm down, play it again, and then start listening to the rest of this beautifully written, sung, and recorded work by two of the most talented folk singers in existence! Wonderful!"
Confronting Mythology and Mortality
dev1 | Baltimore | 07/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Leave it to the McGarrigle sisters to title a CD with the name of a river running through the steep green hills of Montreal. Matapedia confronts mythology and mortality using the family as a reference. The songs are elegant and ambitious. Kate opens the CD with a tale of her teenaged daughter meeting an adult male stranger (father, lover?) from Kate's past (Matapedia). Kate vividly recalls her days as a young lover, while confirming that parenthood separates adults from their past, and in the future must leave their children alone. The male figure may be a symbolic character representing birth, maturity and death. `Matapedia' moves musically like the river: meandering lazily with brief periods of swift rapids.Anna's melodic `Goin' Back To Harlin' embraces the origins of the McGarrigle's music: "Frail my heart apart and play me little Shady Grove/Ring the Bells of Rhymney/Til they ring inside my head forever." This is a description the mid-sixties music which differentiated Baby Boomers from the music of their parents. `Jacques Et Gilles' (Jack And Jill) is an account of the McGarrigle's family history. It's a tender song with no concise conclusion. The vague ending is questioned in the following `Why Must We Die?' The music is tense and foreboding, but the question remains unanswered. The obvious grim reaper finally appears in the nonfictional `Song For Gaby.'Matapedia takes a somber view of death; however, it is also a joyous expression of physical love (Talk About It). The final ending (The Bike Song) is cold, heartbreaking and bitter - "What is it that I had to be/To make you fall in love with me." Matapedia is a challenging work of beauty and courage in the face of finality. It could not have been undertaken except by parents who have endured the passing of their own parents. The overall spirit of Matapedia is neither mournful nor gloomy, but one of a deep devotion to family and an appreciation of the joys of home."
redgrevillea | Sydney, Australia | 12/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Matapedia is arguably the girls' finest album, it's more masterful than their classic debut although it lacks that album's iconoclastic & legendary status. It's a well-performed and conceived album and it's pervasive mood is one of autumnal reflection. Aside from the smooth production and that shimmering twilight mood, the best thing about Matapedia is that both Anna & Kate are in top form as songwriters. Anna's closing 'Bike Song' is the most pointed example of the autumnal & twilight mood that pervades the album, and the biographical 'Song for Gaby' is so genuinely heartfelt and stirring - one of Anna's very best songs. Kate herself is at her incomparable best on Matapaedia that reveals her to be the greatest female singer-songwriter of all time. (Her pianism is also top-notch.) 'I don't know', similar to 'I cried for us' from Love over and over, (but even better), radiates such a pure authority of expression that makes it comparable only to Beethoven, and 'Jacques et Gilles' is a sublimely gorgeous ballad that is so evocative of the Canadian hinterland. A genuine national anthem. 'Talk about it' - musically co-written with Anna shows that there's plenty of life left in the girl, brilliant! Thank you Kate and Anna for your very special (and very good) music."
Music from our Archetypes
Randall E. Adams | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I thought I'd check out these two McGarrigle chicks after hearing them on Nick Cave's best album in some years. About 30 seconds of the title track told me that I had found a whole new musical seam to mine. Since the other writers talk about their lyrics, I'll talk about their striking musical palette. On this album you will hear accordion, violin, wonderfully old-fashioned piano, banjo, dobro and of course guitar along with tastefully applied bass and drums or other percussion. These instruments are deployed in a fashion more French than the more customary Southern country convention. Their somehow both fragile and enduring voices and atypical song structures will make you think you're hearing the best and least derivative of the youngest talents. And, then, they will turn around and give you a song with chord choices and structure that seem to come from the time of Stephen Foster. As proudly Canadian as anyone since Ian Tyson and as old time North American as anyone I can think of, the McGarrigle sisters are a fine fine wine to roll around in your ears and heart on any cold night with a warm fire. It's no surprise that Nick Cave appreciates them.Buy this."
Modern Folk Music At It's Best
A Reader | 11/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though I'm not a huge fan of modern folk, I have been exposed to quite a bit of it. And this CD is, song-by-song, the most beautiful collection of melodies I've heard from this genre. It only took one listen to capture my ear, and my heart. I won't regurgitate what the previous reviews have to say. They are well thought out and insightful. Simply put, the songs are at times wistful, haunting, playful, reflective, and so on..... I for one like the way they were engineered. Contrary to one previous review, I was able to easily discern the lyrics without the liner notes. The fact that the singing was embedded a little deeper into the melodies only enhanced their beauty even more. And how lovely is the fiddling on these recordings. It's the stuff that dreams are made of. My favorites are the title track Matapedia, Goin' Back To Harlan, Why Must we Die, The Bike Song, and best of all, Hang Out Your Heart. Why most if not all reviewers neglected to mention the latter tune is a mystery to me. It makes me pine for the romance of earlier years and recall how painful good love lost can be."