Kate’s songs and vocals are as distinctive as her self-taught guitar technique. Where the Mangoes Are, her first CD for Appleseed and fourth solo release overall, continues her ascension into broader public recognition with twelve songs, all but two of them originals, that showcase her clear, tender soprano voice, her vulnerable but resilient lyrical outlook, and crisp, fingerpicked guitar playing.
Two songs on Where the Mangoes Are, “Mercy” and “Softhearted Girl,” have both already won first place honors in the Plowshares Songwriting Competition and the Susquehanna Songwriting Contest in 2004; a third,"Go Down Moses", won the 2002 Mountain Stage NewSong Festival competition, and a fourth, the darkly seductive “Lemon Marmalade,” was a finalist in the 2003 Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest. An earlier recording of “Mercy,” co-written with friend Anne Lindley, as were seven other Mangoes songs, also received enormous folk show airplay prior to the recent U.S. Presidential elections for its troubled view of “people pinned to the wall by a crazy man’s knife” and a society in which her “neighborhood gets smaller as Bush comes to shove.”
Sympathetic accompaniment in styles ranging from fresh acoustic folk-pop to personalized Americana by the CD’s producer, multi-instrumentalist Scott Petito, lead guitarist Shulman, Mindy Jostyn (accordion, violin, harmonica, backing vocals), and drummer Sam Zucchini illuminates and burnishes Kate’s own deft guitarwork and beautifully expressive voice on this understated but memorable embodiment of the contemporary folk/singer-songwriter genre at its finest.
Reviews"Kate McDonnell is from update New York, and perhaps her most immediately distinctive trait is her guitar technique, described as upside down and backwards: she plays a right-handed guitar in the left-handed position. But as a self-taught guitarist, she is an impressive player. She is also has one of those nearly perfect folksinger voices, somewhere between Joan Baez and Patty Larkin. Where the Mangoes Are is her fourth release, and it's her best yet...There are two non-original songs on Where the Mangoes Are. One is the traditional folksong Railroad Bill, performed pretty much as you would expect to hear a folksong, with harmonica and fiddle among the assembled musical forces. The other track not written by Ms. McDonnell is the Steve Earle composition Goodbye Song, which is also served up in a folk setting. The performance is nicely done, with Ms. McDonnell's vocal being especially effective." - George D. Graham, WVIA