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Getting to know Sarah MacDougall

Dear Listener,

I think you and Sarah MacDougall should have a talk. Soon!

Sarah MacDougall has a lot on her mind, and confidentially, you should listen. Something is erupting.

Photo by Rebecca Kemp

There is a hush to her voice that reassures you that she has control of her ideas — but there’s also a tremulous quality that makes her revelations quiver with urgency.

Sarah MacDougall remembers the dreams that you left behind, and she wants to know why.

Sarah likes to sing to you about nature. There’s lightning and permafrost all over the place. On the cover of Sarah’s teal-coloured new record, The Greatest Ones Alive, there are a couple of grizzly bear petroglyphs dancing, or perhaps representing some undefined relationship struggle.

It’s not all wild wilderness there though. There’s cultivated corn and grain and wise thoughts of home. The album is very simple and beautiful and magnificently honest.

The Canadian cold has a lot to do with Sarah’s shivery silver voice. In Whitehorse in the winter, she says, “There’s not much to do at night but write songs.” She lives in her songs, keeps them warm. You should visit her there. I’ll bet her warm center is alive and singing partly because of the layers it hides under.

Sarah MacDougall’s songs have lots of layers. It’s only natural, when you think about it.

Sarah MacDougall isn’t critical. Not of you. She’s cursing ’bout love mostly. You probably do that too. Ms. MacDougall is a lot like you. She sings, “We all have so much to do and prove,” but she’s not worried about that because, “someday we will all blow away in the wind.”

Sarah’s living in Whitehorse now. She blew there from Vancouver, herself. Sarah MacDougall came from Sweden, at first, but now she’s everywhere. You should go see her sometime. She plays a medium-sized brown guitar, way up here on her chest, really well. You can’t miss her. The music sounds really good and there’s a lot of fun to it. She sings wherever she goes. Probably will for years to come, too.

The publicity guy Ken Beattie, who likes good music in ample amounts, says that The Greatest Ones Alive is like her greatest hits album, because each song is so special. When we saw her playing at Hugh’s Room together last week, every song sounded like an encore. Even the first one.

After a few songs, Sarah MacDougall made the audience howl like wolves. On purpose. She showed them how and encouraged them. You could tell after awhile that they had really wanted to do it, too.

She explained a lot about how she solves her problems and corrects mistakes. To make time pass, in a song, she said she talks to the birds. Did you ever try that? Sarah MacDougall recommends it. Why don’t you give it a shot? And don’t just pretend, either.

Sarah MacDougall produced most of this new record, and did the layout. She made sure the acoustic guitar and the weissenborn and the harmonies all blended together and that the dreams didn’t get left behind this time. It’s a good job. On the record she has nine songs and a string vignette.

If you and I and Sarah MacDougall just keep putting some elbow grease into what we do, then maybe we can all make dreams real and get to be, like she says, the greatest ones alive.  Just about, anyway. There are lessons in her music. Mind them while you are enjoying it in the middle of a long night. Have a good listen. And don’t forget the layers.

Paul Corby is the host of Corby’s Orbit on CKLN.FM, online Friday afternoons from 11 ‘til 2.

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