Linda McRae Album Review: Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts

Canadian star, (from the platinum selling group Spirit of the West) and now-Nashvillian, Linda McRae has added another stellar album to her discography, Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts.  McRae traveled back up north to her home state to record this project, and it has already hit the Canadian charts. This is her fifth solo release and is the first to include contributions from her husband, James Whitmire, who shares songwriting credit on many of the tracks. An accomplished songwriter and instrumentalist,  McRae has one of those voices that seems to transcend all time and space, calling forth truths from the past and wisdom from the future with a haunting echo one moment, and an enlightening tale the next. She is a true gift and her essence is a definite light in song and musicianship.

In Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts, she delivers potent Folk beauty in every single track. How many voices can truly make a beautiful duet with a banjo? Not many. But McRae can, and does. And on a Hank Williams song, no less. Her version of “Ramblin’ Man” will send chills up your spine. She was invited one year to go to Montgomery, AL on the annual New Years celebration of Hank Williams, where at midnight they go to his grave and sing songs. She was inspired to play “Ramblin Man” with banjo in hand, and now it’s one of her set staples and one of the best tracks on the album.

The title track, Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts, is another standout offering, inspired by the loneliness that can accompany the human experience. Gurf Morlix, who has worked with McRae as a producer and musician on much of her work, joins in on background vocals on this heartbreakingly beautiful song…

Iʼm starved for affection, donʼt strive for perfection

just someone to catch me should I fall

the bandʼs finished playing outside itʼs still raining

I look around and thereʼs no one at all

 Rough edges and ragged hearts

come together just to fall apart

where living is a dying art

rough edges and ragged hearts

More excellent work in “Doin’ Life Without Parole” and on my personal favorite, the soul-filled “Be Your Own Light,” a song that reveals more strength and deep nuances in McRae’s outstanding vocals.


1. Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts (with Gurf Morlix)

2. Deck of 52 (with Marc L’Esperance)

3. Hope It Lasts Through Supper  (with Doug Cox)

4. Three Midnights (with Ray Bonneville)

5. In The Valley Below (with Samantha Parton)

6. Geppetto’s Boy

7. Higher Ground

8. Ramblin’ Man

9. Four & Twenty Blackbirds

10. Doin’ LIfe Without Parole

11. Be Your Own Light (with Doug Cox, The Sojourners and the McRaezie Choir)

Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts is the best Folk album I’ve heard this year. For more on Linda McRae, visit


~ Richard Diehn

Outlaw Magazine. Country, Rock and Roll, Blues, Folk, Americana, Punk. As long as it is real, it is OUTLAW. Overproduced mediocrity need not apply.