Mary Caroline: YK Songstress Bids for A Breakthrough

Mary Caroline has been living on the edge these days, from her frontier cabin along the Liard River to her decision to go all in as a touring singer-songwriter. All of that is reflected in her new album Life on Earth, which she releases today.

The recording, her debut studio effort, has plenty of odes to the cold and winter, but unlike the rugged northern places that inspire her, this music is awash in softness and warmth.

“I think it’s the influence of the synth; it’s lighter, kind of airy pop-driven folk,” Caroline, 32, tells in a telephone interview from a busy coffee shop in Toronto.

“I’m actually really, really excited about the release of this album.”

With the help of a FACTOR grant, the solo songstress – who has called Yellowknife home since 2005 – recorded Life on Earth last summer at the fabled old church that is now Catherine North Studios in Hamilton, Ont.

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She’s the first artist in the NWT to receive financial support from FACTOR, a non-profit organization funded in part by private radio broadcasters to help artists find commercial audiences.

The record was produced and engineered by Scott Peacock and studio owner Dan Hosh, whose client list includes Whitehorse, Said The Whale, Royal Wood and City & Colour. Caroline has two previous home-studio recorded releases she’s very proud of, entitled and Who’s In Control. “They were very well done,” she says, but notes that Life on Earth “is different, because it was done in a professional, well-established recording studio, and I worked with the producers to give it more commercial appeal.”

“It was great,” says Caroline of her studio time in Hamilton. “I feel like from the get-go, Dan and I sat down and stripped down the eight songs I was going to go forward with – we found the hooks, and that pop sensibility.”

The results are an atmospheric array of cello, synthesizers, drums, piano and guitar over breezy vocals.

Caroline hopes the title track, which would not feel out of place on a carefree twirl around a carousel, will entice national radio play by the CBC and beyond.

Since quitting full-time work a year and a half ago, Caroline has hired a publicist, focused on recording, and toured extensively with Moose Jaw artist Megan Nash. The pair have driven her Jeep Patriot through Saskatchewan, Alberta, and across parts of southern NWT.

Recently, she’s been living in Toronto in a friend’s living room as she awaits the official release of Life on Earth this Friday at The Central in Toronto, with another show Saturday in Hamilton. Rooting herself close to the industry action is part of her plan to broaden her exposure.

She’s been selected to perform at the official Folk Alliance International Artist Showcase Feb. 20th in Kansas City, MO – an event filled with industry movers that offers a chance to break into the lucrative U.S. market.

Using funds she crowd-sourced through Kickstarter, she also plans to record the experience for a documentary.

Yellowknife fans will be able to hear the new tracks live April 11 at the Top Knight. Or you can find the record on iTunes, or at Down to Earth Gallery.

For a full tour schedule check out Mary Caroline’s Facebook page.


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