Norma MacDonald – Old Future

Album Review | Noyse Records | Review by Marc Higgins

“Temperamental Year” has a smooth pop County vibe, bouncy Tom Petty guitars and the sweet sweep of the pedal steel.  Armed with a map Norma says you can trace the Appalachians from Tennessee diagonally North like a, spine to the Canadian east coast.  Cape Breton born, Halifax NS based MacDonald feels a physical connection and an affinity with the classic country and folk that flows through that literal and metaphorical rock conduit.  

“Trick Of The Light” is bright and bouncy, some of that 80’s snap and bounce from Edie Brickell alongside Norma’s smooth and inviting County voice.  The lyrics are serious and thoughtful but the delivery and band bring a lot of radio friendly sparkle.  “Golden Age” continues those slightly melancholic lyrics with Dale Murray’s pedal steel and Norma’s light as air voice  turning it into a poignant lullaby.  “One Man Band” is a brooding folk song, given a radio friendly sparkle by an infectious chorus, a positive message and Anna Wedlock’s sharp violin.  “Slow Down Marie” is one of my favourite album tracks, lovely solo and chorus vocals, huge bass and that jangly autoharp like guitar puts you in mind of late 60s pre folk Fairport when they channelled an English slice of West Coast bliss.  “Your Wedding Day” and “I Already Have A Shadow” are absolutely classic country tear jerkers with great crooned vocals.  “Wonder In The Summer” stretches the musical envelope with a vocal that draws in Mary Chapin Carpenter and Natalie Merchant and some very barbed new wave guitar.  “Lover of Unreason” is another intimate album standout, the shuffle drums and Norma’s wonderfully close vocal summoning a kind of Cowboy Junkies gothic bliss, this track got played a lot.  “Some Days” is a wonderful Country Blues, so evocative and cinematic you could imagine it delivered to camera by the bar waiting heroine in a musical Death By Nostalgia, as they wiped tables and put up the chairs at the end of the night.

Old Future is a pleasant dance of an album with some classic and special moments.  As the title suggests it is aware of its lineage and the rich musical draws on and sits firmly within, pulling in Country, Folk and dreamy 70s West Coast harmonies.  It’s as comfortable and well fitting as a favourite shirt, put it on and you’ll quickly decide you’ve been listening to it your whole life.