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Shelagh McDonald


Country of origin:

Scotland

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce contemporary folk and traditional folk with a slightly jazz-y flavour

Status:

Currently performing live. Most recent release, Parnassus Revisited (2014), available at shows

See also:

Sheila McDonald's site

Wikipedia's article on Shelagh McDonald

Comparisons:

Sandy Denny, Linda Thompson, Jacqui McShee (Pentangle), Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon

Covers/own material:

Mostly own, occasional covers and traditional songs

General comments:

Shelagh McDonald is kind of a cross between early Joni Mitchell (songs) and Sandy Denny (vocals and songwriting)/Carly Simon (vocals)—a pretty amazing combination! She has fascinating '70s folk songwriting chops and a lovely, lovely, strong, evocative voice. She only did two albums and started a third in the early 1970s before abruptly dropping from the scene. No one knew what had happened to her until she re-surfaced in 2005 for one interview. There are rumours she may record again, but nothing concrete. (Neile)

Recommended first album:

The Let No Man Steal Your Thyme compilation includes both albums as well as various outtakes, live recordings and other rarities and so is probably your best deal, but if you're looking for an individual album, Stargazer is the most amazing.

Recordings:

  • Album (1970)
  • Stargazer (1971)
  • Let No Man Steal Your Thyme (compilation, 2005)
  • Parnassus Revisited (2014)

Album

Release info:

1970—B&C Records; reissued 2000—Mooncrest—CrestCD 059

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Shelagh McDonald—vocals, guitar, piano

Guest artists:

Keith Christmas—guitar
Gerry Conway—drums
Pat Donaldson—bass
Michael Evans—bass
Tristan Fry—backing vocals
Gordon Huntley—steel guitar
Roger Powell—drums
Andy Roberts—guitar
Keith Tippett—piano

Comments:

With this, her first album, Shelagh McDonald shows an unusual assurance both vocally and in her songwriting—she can stand beside her peers, Sandy Denny, Linda Thompson, Jacqui McShee (Pentangle). While her sound now sounds perhaps derivative of theirs (and Joni Mitchell), she was part of the same scene, doing the rounds of the English folk clubs starting in 1968. I think that overall Stargazer is the stronger album, this is still lovely. (Neile)

Stargazer

Release info:

1971—B&C Records; reissued —Mooncrest—CrestCD 040

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Shelagh McDonald—vocals, guitar, piano

Guest artists:

Harvey Burns—drums
Keith Christmas—guitar
Pat Donaldson—bass
Katie Kissoon—vocals
Mac Kissoon—vocals
Mike London—vocals
Dave Mattacks—drums
Dave Richards—bass
John Ryan—bass
Danny Thompson—bass
Richard Thompson—guitar
Ray Warleigh—saxophone

Comments:

Wow—she has such a gorgeous voice that immediately on hearing this I fell in love with her music. I love the tracks for the original album (the bonus CD tracks, some recording for a prospective third album don't do that much for me as they go a little more generic-sounding folkrock). Though her songwriting seems perhaps a less personal than Joni Mitchell's, her talents are clear here. While the sound is obviously from the early 1970s the album doesn't seem dated—and not only because there's a revival of this kind of music right now. Shelagh McDonald has a rare vocal and folk songwriting talent, and this is a gorgeous album. (Neile)

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2014-04-26 20:02:39.
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