Americana as a genre means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, this album pretty much sums up what it means to me, a little rock, a dash of roll, electro-acoustic, splash of harmonica, twang, slide, improvised kick drum, blues, harmonies, a history lesson – oh an banjo, don’t forget the banjo.
The bands eponymous debut release featured on Beat Surrender back in 2010 though the follow-up release managed to fly under our radar but I’m glad their latest release Modern Settler landed safely in the inbox as it’s a thoroughly enjoyable recording.
Mary Caroline’s new album Life on Earth clocks in at a svelte twenty five minutes and features eight self-penned tunes, the Canadian singer-songwriter lives in a remote trapper’s cabin, 600km from the town of Yellowknife in the Northern Territories where her day job involves working on an Animal Planet/Discovery show Ice Lake Rebels.
The recording was made during the summer in Hamilton Ontario’s converted church studio Catherine North, and supported with funding from regional art grants earned from FACTOR and NWT Arts Council, when not working the day job or recording Mary is out on the road across Canada and has played numerous festivals and also supports local projects, paying back the grants in-kind by bringing her music to children in the remote communities of the Northern Territories and organising the Tseko Celebration of Women in Music in Yellowknife.
I asked Mary about the background to a few of the songs on the album and she was happy to oblige.
“I wrote Life on Earth sort of abstractly thinking about what might go on a recording sent into space about life on earth, but not some romantic interpretation of it, but more what is left as we grow into adults and loose the idealism of our youth. But than I set it to a kind of peppy simple guitar riff for a sense of irony.
Songs of Winter I wrote while in Yellowknife. Its a song about falling in love in the dead of winter, but its just so dam cold out that you can’t really do anything about it, so you just bundle up in your cabin and wait for the frost to come off the window and the wood pile to shrink, and spring to come so you can pursue your love.
Full Moon is also a song full of northern imagery. I was hired to do a youth music workshop in a remote First Nations community in early November. We had to cross the liard river by foot, because the ice wasn’t thick enough to drive on. In fact there were still spots on the river where steam was coming up from the open water. Then on the way back at night we had to bring a riffle because there were wolves hunting in the area. It was such an intense experience that I wrote a song rooted in the events of that day.”
From his new album Afraid Of Ghosts recorded live to tape over a four day period at Ryan Adams’ PAX AM studios, with guests appearances from Johnny Depp and Bob Mould.
A rather nice compilation from fledging label My Little Empire Records, the independent was formed in late 2014 with the honourable vision of ‘promoting new music that we love.’
‘New Emperors’ is available now to download on a pay-what-you-like basis on Bandcamp.