Kate and Anna McGarrigle | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Kate and Anna McGarrigle 

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Kate and Anna McGarrigle

Kate and Anna McGarrigle came of age in Canada in the 60s, when young folksingers were blending traditional themes with a forward-looking lyrical inventiveness that had previously been shunned by more traditional-minded folkies. Their music can evoke a sense of place with almost mystical reverence--the songs on their current CD, Matapedia, are propelled by gentle but insistent cadences that often sound as if they were absorbed from Quebec's Matapedia River itself, much as Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" was meant to bring to mind the Montreal harbor where a venerable mariner's church looks over the Saint Lawrence River. The McGarrigles overlay these aural dreamscapes with lyrics that are equal parts folk storytelling and beat-tinged introspection. Sweetly nostalgic, bitingly personal, and tantalizingly obscure in turn, they capture eloquently that unsettling mix of timelessness and impermanence that can overwhelm a person upon returning to a place long remembered. The immediacy of the imagery is heightened by the McGarrigles' harmonies, which are among the most breathtaking in all of popular music. Their ability to celebrate roots while embracing exploration makes the McGarrigles' art perennially fresh. With a folksinger's historical awareness and a poet's creative vision, they celebrate the restless vibrancy of their own musical generation while simultaneously immersing themselves in deeper and more lasting truths. Friday, 10 PM (the 7 PM show is already sold out), Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 773-525-7793. DAVID WHITEIS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Diane Dulude.

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