Music News & Reviews

Claire Lynch charms with Canadian bluegrass

Claire Lynch’s “North by South.”
Claire Lynch’s “North by South.”

Claire Lynch began her career in bluegrass in Alabama. With Grammy nominations and IBMA awards, including three as top female vocalist, Lynch is firmly entrenched in the upper echelon of bluegrass artists.

For “North by South,” Lynch travels north of the border to record songs by Canadian tunesmiths. Canada is home to Lynch’s husband who introduced her to some of his country’s finest writers, most of whom are unknown in the land of the cotton.

It doesn’t matter, though, where she finds her songs, because Lynch is versatile and astute, with a voice so warm and reassuring it could melt Canada’s stubborn permafrost.

From the opening lines of “Cold Hearted Wind,” Lynch invites us to hold to hope with comforting resolve: “Some morning you may find yourself alone/And there’ll be no warning should the wind of change start blowing/Cold-hearted wind is blowin’ in the face of love/But I’ll take you to a place I know/Where the cold-hearted wind don’t blow.”

“Molly May,” written by J.P. and Gervais Cormier, is a first-person tale of life on a fishing boat, as the career and vessel pass between generations. “Gone Again” reflects on the nomadic life of working musicians, who leave home and fans behind as they travel from town to town.

The mood turns inward on Gordon Lightfoot’s “It’s Worth Believing,” with Lynch sharing lead vocals with her former band mate Bryan McDowell. And Lynch’s humor illuminates “Milo,” a loving nod to her husband as a testament to the fact that opposites attract.

Lynch is accompanied by her talented band – Matt Wingate, Jarrod Walker, and Mark Schatz – with Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, David Grier and other guests introducing more bluegrass flavors than on some of Lynch’s previous albums.

But throughout “North by South,” it’s Lynch’s emotionally honest voice and discerning choice of songs that star, and provide the most satisfying and compelling album of her heralded career.


Claire Lynch

“North by South”