Monday, December 12, 2011

Sloan Wainwright – Upside Down & Under My Heart

Upside Down & Under My Heart
Derby Disc Music

There were several poignant musical moments, almost two years ago, at the funeral service for beloved singer and songwriter, and old friend, Kate McGarrigle. Among the most profound, for me, came when Sloan Wainwright, Kate’s friend and ex-sister-in-law, sang “Today,” a beautiful song I’d never heard before.

It turned out to be a song that Sloan and Kate had co-written in 2009, sometime after Sloan’s husband, George McTavey, passed away following a long battle with leukaemia.

I told Sloan how moved I was by the song and she sent me an MP3 demo of “Today” recorded June 27, 2009 at Kate’s house in Montreal with Kate on piano, Chaim Tannenbaum on harmonica and mandolin and Joel Zifkin on viola. It was a song I listened to many times in the months that followed and which I’m pleased to report is included on Upside Down & Under My Heart, Sloan’s new album.

“Today” remains a profoundly moving song – a sad, quiet, dignified memorial to both George and Kate.

The sense of loss pervades several other songs including the haunting “I Wear the Ring,” a song to her late husband telling him that she wears his wedding ring and lets him know their children are all right.

Beyond loss and grief are songs like “I Can See Now” and “I Am Free” in which she affirms her continuing life and songs of hope like “Upside Down & Under My Heart,” which she sings as an expectant mother to a yet unborn child.

Musically, Sloan blends strains of folk, blues and pop into something of her own. Her greatest strength, perhaps, is her voice, a warm contralto marked by unique phrasing that brings each song to life, whether singing quietly and contemplatively or powerfully and forcefully.

--Mike Regenstreif

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