Lest anyone miss the point of her French lyric "Pronto Monto," Anna McGarrigle offered this English translation last night at the Cellar Door: "Take your coat, your shoes, your worries and get yourself out of my life." The audience caught her drift.

Actually, the overflow crowd needed little help in discerning the meaning or value of the songs written by McGarrigle and her sister Kate. Their clever, often inspired songwriting has won them a small but loyal audience, and last night's performance won't diminish its numbers any.

The McGarrigles don't inspire much confidence on stage; they move awkwardly from one song to another, and each possesses a voice as fragile as it is expressive. But once beyond the tentative opening chords to songs like "Mendocino," they picked up steam, and if powered by their own words and imagery. Each took turns at the piano and Kate (on button accordoin) joined Chaim Tannenbaum (on banjo, mandolin) in lending a genuine Acadian flavor to many of their songs.

Recently they've been recording on a French label, but some of the new songs Anna has written -- "Black Heart" in particular -- deserve to be heard by a wider audience. The McGarrigles return tonight to the Cellar Door.