Doug Cox & Linda McRae – Beyond the Great Pause – Live
The ever-reliable & entertaining Canadian artist Linda McRae (vocals/acoustic guitar/accordion/banjo) joins the superb Doug Cox (vocals/acoustic guitar/dobro) & as a duo, they produce some remarkable music.
While the set is rooted in a vintage folk tradition they remind me of past duos that were meticulous in the choice of material & showcasing it sure-fingered & pristine. Clive Gregson with Christine Collister, Richard & Linda Thompson, Richard & Mimi Farina & later Mimi with Tom Jans (writer of the now standard “Loving Arms”).
It was music that was exciting. There really isn’t anything that sounds better than 2 human voices in harmony if not in harmony sounding independently rich & appealing. 11 songs grace Beyond the Great Pause – Live (Drops Feb 1–Independent) with originals, classics like “Paper Moon,” & The Kink’s Ray Davies’ classically beautiful “Waterloo Sunset” sung by Doug with a mature tone brings the 60s rock song full-circle – as if it were always meant for an older man’s voice. Pass the tissues.
Cox has a wavering old-fashion vocal style & while he’s not an old man he sounds like a wise man, an experienced warm vocalist & who embellishes the dusty folk tradition with ease through his relevant tonality. You believe what he says in “Last Song You Played.” Cox comes across as a bit like the late David Olney (who died in 2020 while performing & apologized to his audience). It’s my guess this song could be about that dear artist (I could be wrong).
Linda does what I respect. Take a song ill-suited to the folk-idiom like David Bowie-Brian Eno’s “Heroes,” & reinvent it as a beautiful acoustic folk tune. Music is such an adaptable medium in the right hands with the right voice. It works. McRae is powerful vocally throughout.
The songs — all recorded live at different venues were produced by Doug Cox. His weathered steely vocals are rich on this set & contrasting the striking vocals of Ms. McRae. Her French-like accordion notes pour lovingly on the unfailingly melodious “Crow On the Cradle.” Just one of many relevant lyrical songs on this set.
Linda’s been performing for years but as a reference, she has the folk-inspired vocals of many renowned female singers like Rosalie Sorrels, Ferron, Cris Williamson, Ronnie Gilbert, Kate Wolf & Betty Kaske. Linda will always be in good company.
Her “Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts,” has depth & charm. Though it’s an original the McRae-Al Mader song about feeling lonely in a room filled with people is like an old traditional song from a 100-years ago. That takes skill. Skill is what Cox-McRae provides.
Highlights: “Beyond the Great Pause,” “Last Song You Played,” “Heroes,” “Crow On the Cradle,” “Listen to the Water,” “Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts” & “Waterloo Sunset.”