Life lessons and harmonies.
‘We Will Never Be The Same’ is the first album of new material from Canada’s The Good Lovelies in five years. Comprising singer-songwriters Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough and Susan Passmore, they have been plying their trade for some seventeen years together, and as might be expected, their trademark sound features the three vocalists weaving intricate and natural-sounding harmonies around each other. If you are a fan of the Wailin’ Jennies, Ward Thomas, or First Aid Kit, you are likely to find plenty to enjoy here.
Having been together writing and performing for this long, ‘We Will Never…’ perhaps unsurprisingly carries many references to the issues that come with maturity – the anxieties over maintaining relationships with partners, friends and children; the worries that the modern world can bring (not least the Covid years, which is hinted at on more than one occasion), and how these can be reflected in big or small ways, the personal becoming political and vice versa. Lest it might seem that this is all a bit depressing, it should be said that the record also reflects on the small and simple things that get us through it all, the mini, day-to-day happenings that give us purpose.
Opening track ‘Young At Heart’ is a clear statement. Superficially at least, a vibrant chiming pop song (and a great video too, by the way), it nonetheless references the hardships known to every parent. “Years flying by with the babies, they keep me on my toes bring me to my knees / though I wouldn’t change a single thing, the weight of some days still ruins me”. It carries the reminder to remember our own identity, and to keep finding some joy somewhere, via a really lovely image of a couple who “head to the kitchen with our dancing shoes”, while the chorus repeats “I am young at heart” like a mantra, a reminder that she won’t let herself forget.
These themes are returned to again and again, and always with the sumptuous harmonies. ‘Wilderness’ and ‘Insomnia’ bring added delicacy, while ‘All My Days‘ and ‘Not A Lost Cause’ carry more of an Americana roots groove.
If there is a criticism of the record, it is that there is a very specific sound to the record as a whole, a blanket of softness that perhaps unnecessarily smooths off all the edges; sometimes it seems even a little soporific, and that isn’t entirely in keeping with the stories it is telling. Indeed, listening back to previous Good Lovelies records, there is far more variety of sound on offer. Perhaps these songs will spring to life more in the live setting.
But possibly this is also a sign of maturity, and as such, entirely congruent with the overall message. The record stands as a whole body of work, and perhaps the sound is one that reflects the time of life it talks about. If it doesn’t have the technicolour vibrancy of youth, it has a more thoughtful depth that comes with having life experiences (not all of them welcome), and having to find a way through. The Good Lovelies are signposting hope through these songs. Sometimes, you just have to keep going, but don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers.