One of the finest Canadian exports of the last few years Sarah MacDougall is playing the Glasgow Americana Festival (Brel on 9th October) and luckily enough she has a brand new album that those fortunate enough to attend should be able to get their hands on. The Greatest One Alive is a tremendous little album. Small but perfectly formed its ten songs are all delightfully crafted with MacDougall’s excellent vocals well to the fore. She has a great voice, husky and tender with a slight sense of vulnerability. She also evokes, both in her writing and singing a sense of the great cold outdoors, perhaps due to her Swedish background. Despite this the album also embraces a warm and celebratory experience with a spring in the step of a piece such as Song #43. Chillier climes and notions do inhabit the less adorned songs. Permafrost with its chilling pedal steel is hypnotic while Cold Night illustrates perfectly those moments, late at night and alone when rumination and recrimination deny sleep.
There are some fine and tender musical moments throughout the album with We’re All Gonna Blow Away and The Greatest Ones Alive swelling with pride from the speakers. The opening song Sometimes You Lose, Sometimes You Win grabs you from the start with its windswept sweep where acoustic guitars and piano pile into each other achieving a degree of perfection. This ensemble playing reaches its peak on It’s a Storm! (What’s Going On?) where MacDougall and her vocal partners are assisted by some fine rumbling percussion to create some musical onomatopoeia. However the most arresting song is the one that she delivers all by herself, MMM, a terrific and tender love song.
We’re All Gonna Blow Away