The McGarrigle Hour
Featuring an All-Star Cast
I started off thinking I wouldn’t like this. I’m not one to sit around and get teary-eyed listening to “Danny Boy” or folk music of that ilk, but I found this CD, with Kate McGarrigle, Anna McGarrigle, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Loudon Wainwright III, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright and Chaim Tannenbaum, charming.
Loudon has been a longtime favorite of mine. He won me over with “Mr. Guilty,” and his now-ironic homage to his infant son, “Rufus was a Tit Man,” many years ago. I’m as guilty as anyone in spending too many years thinking of him as a singer of novelty songs.
Here, his ex-wife and the mother of Rufus Wainwright, Kate McGarrigle, along with sister Anna, are the Stars. Their original songs, and their arrangements of standards penned by the likes of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and Stephen Foster, shine like brighter than the biggest belt buckle Elvis ever had. These songs, both old and new, are truly timeless.
The liner notes call this collaboration “The Greatest Folk Family Ever Assembled.” It may well be. All of the musicians contributing to this record have had a very long relationship with the McGarrigles, either directly through family, and/or through earlier treatments of the McGarrigle’s songs. As a result, this gathering is able to reach deep into all the places that only the great family bands can. Kate and Anna generously swap leads with the guests and provide their amazing signature harmonies in all the right places. The only thing wrong with this disc was the spelling on the cover. Everyone should know “Emmylou” is one word. RykoDisc, Shetland Park, 27 Congress St., Salem, MA 01970; http://www.rykodisc.com