By Liam Prost
CALGARY — It’s tempting to begin writing about Catherine MacLellan by talking about her father: the late, great, Gene MacLellan. Or even her former marriage to quiet legend, songwriter Al Tuck, or even her ongoing partnership with guitarist Chris Gauthier. But her associations with others does not define Catherine MacLellan herself, whose songwriting and presence outshines any of the intertextual elements that might pull focus away from her beautifully penned songs. Bio-fodder aside, MacLellan’s true appeal is her concisely written narratives, her breathy, honest vocal delivery and her immaculate taste in collaborators. 2014’s The Raven Sun features some of her most lavish arrangements, but also some of her most confident songs. More recently however, MacLellan has deliberately relinquished focus, opting to perform alongside two other PEI singer-songwriters: country songstress Meaghan Blanchard and pop-folk singer Ashley Condon. The three go by the all-too-perfect title The Eastern Belles and perform achingly beautiful, guitar-led folk. The Eastern Belles write their songs together, but trade off lead vocal duties, leaving the inevitable three part harmonies for accentuation instead of going full barbershop. The three carefully support each other, valuing their distinct vocal timbres for texture over dense instrumentation. MacLellan is certainly the most established of the three, and a set under her own name should be just as dynamic.
Catherine MacLellan will be bringing her solo material to the Ironwood Stage and Grill for Block Heater on February 12th.