I was unaware of the McGarrigle sisters before seeing them on Transatlantic Sessions on the Ovation Channel. I was also unaware of the connection between Annie McGarrigle and Loudon and Rufus Wainwright (ex-wife, mother) until I purchased this CD. This family affair CD represents the best in traditional music, incorporating such standards as "What'll I do?" with even earlier songs such as "Alice Blue Gown" and the extremely poignant "Gentle Annie." These songs really do take the listener back to an idealized past, in much the same way the early Randy Newman did in songs such as "Dayton, Ohio." The era the songs come from may not really have been that simple or innocent, but it's easy to be lulled by the McGarrigles into believing so.
The males in the family don't come across quite as splendidly, and contribute to a bit of uneveness on the compilation. This is particularly true of Rufus, a very good performer in his own right, but not featured to great effect here. The chemistry song and "Heartburn" come across as contrived attempts at cleverness, especially when contrasted with the abundance of great understated material on the rest of the CD. Loudon does contribute to one of the true highlights of the sessions in his duet with Annie on "Young Love." It's the best rendition of the song I've heard.
In all, this is a heartfelt outpouring of song from an immensely gifted family of musicians. If one didn't believe in the power of genes before hearing this CD, one listen is enough to convince.