Catherine MacLellan

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo by Gary Miller

Catherine MacLellan

Victorian Room at the Driskill, Wednesday, March 17

There was something appropriately disconnected to the setting of Catherine MacLellan's set inside the Victorian Room at the Driskill Hotel. The staunch full-length drapes billowing down the walls and enormous picture windows reflecting out upon the opening-night frenzy of Sixth Street struck a contrast to both the clear purity and calm, understated delivery that belies the power of MacLellan's voice and songs. Whereas 2008's sophomore album, Church Bell Blues, struck with a poignant intimacy, last year's Water in the Ground provided a more freewheeling folk swagger, and it was the latter side that shone Wednesday night. Kicking off with the easy lope of "Take a Break," the Canadian singer-songwriter hearkened Gillian Welch, with guitarist Chris Gauthier playing electric Dave Rawlings to her acoustic strum. Gauthier's tones wound richly around MacLellan's crystallized vocals, whether cutting low blues or in delicate trill on tunes like "Isabel's Song." Balancing the turn of nostalgic yearning with a self-determined independence, "Water in the Ground" and "Sparrows" were subtly enveloping, with an Emmylou Harris conflation of strength and grace. Perhaps most remarkable is the sheer effortlessness with which MacLellan and Gauthier unravel the songs, pinnacled by the rousing closer of "Set This Heart on Fire."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Friday Showcases
Friday Showcases
Korea, Japan, Spain, Africa – see the world from single showcases

March 20, 2015

Saturday Interview
Saturday Interview

Kevin Curtin, March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
This Will Destroy You
New Others Part One (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Dec. 14, 2018

Texas Platters
Name Sayers
Mantles (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, Dec. 14, 2018

More by Doug Freeman
Honky-Tonk Soul Man Charley Crockett Makes His Move
Honky-Tonk Soul Man Charley Crockett Makes His Move
The singer's long road to Austin

Dec. 14, 2018

Texas Platters
Kevin Welch
Dust Devil (Record Review)

Dec. 14, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Catherine MacLellan

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle