Roots singer/songwriter Linda McRae put out a fine compilation, Fifty Shades Of Red, last year, and now returns with a superb new album, Shadow Trails. She made a mark in Canadian folk as a member of the much-loved Spirit Of The West, but has veered into country since going solo. Her compelling husky voice is equally convincing on a slow sad ballad like "When Love Is a Game" (a song by Willie P. Bennett) and a country-rocker like opening track "Can You Hear Me Calling". We love the lyrics on "Why Can't Waylon", dedicated to late country great Waylon Jennings — "If Jesus can come back, why can't Waylon". The album was recorded at Blue Rodeo's The Woodshed studio, and you can't get a much better backing band than this one: Juno-winner Steve Dawson (who produced), the Blackie and the Rodeo Kings rhythm section of John Dymond and Gary Craig, and keyboardist Steve O'Connor. Notable guests include Ray Bonneville, Fats Kaplin, Geoffrey Kelly (SOTW), Keri Latimer (Nathan) and Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams). Of note: some of these songs were inspired by McRae's work in prisons (including the infamous Folsom Prison) through the Arts in Corrections program.
McRae plays The Space in Guelph on Oct. 9, London's Music Club on Oct. 10, Buffalo's Sportsmen's Tavern on Oct. 11, the Folk Music Ontario Conference in Toronto, Oct. 15-16, and Hugh's Room in Toronto on Oct. 18.