Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Odditties [Querbeservice, 2010]
A hodgepodge segmented to make sense as a sampler, all recorded by 1990 and most well before, consisting of: 1) Four Stephen Foster weepers, two Civil War and two early death, harmonized prettily instead of tartly. They're saccharine, yes, but wittingly so, and exposure plus comparison with a Foster comp I like convinced me that this was the most effective rendering of 19th-century parlor music I knew. 2) Two by Canadian folk icon Wade Hemsworth, a McGarrigles staple in their Mountain City Four days--the first a waltz that motorvates plenty after those weepers, the second in 5/4 and over my fundament. 3) A Quebecois encore done live in '76 and a Cajun two-step studio-stomped. Both leap the language barrier. 4) Four lost McGarrigles songs, three by Anna and a collaborator, one by Kate alone. All are worthy, two wondrous: Anna's threnody for her cat Louis, which is slight, and Kate's love song to Martha and her dolls, which is wiry. Play it for someone you love on Mother's Day. But be sure to check it out yourself first. A-