If It’s Alright With You: The Songs of Gene MacLellan, is a legacy project which finds folk singer-songwriter Catherine MacLellan covering songs by her late father. It is now available via True North Records.
For two decades, Gene MacLellan quietly commanded the ears of the world from his Prince Edward Island home as artists including Anne Murray, Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn, Chet Atkins, Joan Baez and Ocean turned MacLellan compositions like “Snowbird,” “Put Your Hand in the Hand” and “The Call” into worldwide chart-toppers and repertoire standards.
After receiving the Roots & Traditional Solo Album of the Year JUNO Award for her album The Raven’s Sun, Catherine says, “The JUNO made me feel as though people know me and appreciated my music. Now I want to share my dad’s music. It’s also an opportunity for me to get to know him better.” MacLellan lost her father in 1995 while still in her mid-teens. “The more I get to know his songs, the closer I feel to him.”
“Put Your Hand in the Hand,” a gospel-pop smash charted by Ocean and still performed in every corner of the globe, is stripped back to its barest essentials. “Dave Gunning, JP Cormier and myself played it as an encore on tour and it was so fun, just two guitars and three voices. We recorded our version in three hours one afternoon in Calgary and I think it’s perfect.”
And then there’s the matchless “Snowbird,” Anne Murray’s signature song and a classic for the ages. Says MacLellan, “I got out the Wurlitzer and played it as simply as possible. It’s very honest. I was also able to record an extra verse only my dad ever recorded.” Also included on the album are “Bidin’ My Time,” “Shilo Song” and “Thorn In My Shoe.”
And what would Gene MacLellan make of Catherine’s journey through his songbook? “He would be happy to know his songs continue on, being remembered and given a new spark,” she says. “It’s a testament to what a young guy from very humble beginnings can do.”