Gig review: Sarah MacDougall at the Green Note
The Green Note in London’s Camden Town offers the perfect setting for Sarah MacDougall’s intimate and personal songs and gave her a chance to engage with the audience. Tim Tweedale accompanied her on a Weissenborn lap steel and backing vocals, and occasionally the cornet.
Born in Sweden, MacDougall relocated to Vancouver at age 19 and both Canada and Scandinavia provide inspiration for her songs. So she ranges from singing about poverty amidst the general affluence of Vancouver to songs about the difficulty of staying in touch with friends and family in Sweden, and a new song about the mountains of Norway.
Although she had a limited release CD in 2005, it was 2009’s Across The Atlantic, her first full release, that has won her most attention. Not surprisingly, she played most of the songs from that album, and they provided some of the highlights of the evening, including the title track, plus “I’ve Got Sorrow” and “I’ve Got Your Back”.
She also gave a preview of the songs from her next album, which she’s hoping to record over the summer. “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose” received the best reception. It’s difficult to form an opinion on the new songs first time around, especially as her best songs often take a few listens before they hit home.
She got the audience singing along and, on “Cry Wolf”, making wolf noises. And she was happily chatting to the audience and signing CD’s both during the intermission and at the end of the evening.
MacDougall’s songs are generally not complex, but she has a very pleasing voice. Indeed her best songs are sometimes the simplest, and the best of all was saved for last. For the final song of the evening, she and Tweedale came down into the audience to perform “Ramblin’” unamplified, and with MacDougall standing on a squeaky chair and the audience singing along.
There are a few days left to catch the final dates of the UK tour. Alternatively MacDougall’s due to appear in session on Bob Harris Country on Radio 2 on June 17. And if her next CD builds on the success of “Across The Atlantic”, she’ll surely be moving up to bigger venues soon.
Sarah MacDougall on Backroads