Major Love takes the scenic route

Sometimes great things happen by accident.

Singer-songwriter Colleen Brown was recently touring Europe by herself – again – and had been feeling a touch of “ennui,” as Europeans say, about her chosen career path. One night, at a club in London, England, Brown found herself quite by chance on the same stage as fellow Edmontonians Scenic Route to Alaska. They hit it off, as you can imagine, and despite the obvious musical differences – singer-songwriter who sounds like Joni Mitchell meets jangly folk-rock band – a supergroup was spawned.

The band Major Love plays Friday at the Buckingham. Time will tell if the project becomes one of those unintentional successes that riddle the music business (City and Colour, for instance, started when the hardcore punk rocker Dallas Green started fooling around with acoustic guitars). Often it’s the songs that lead the way. Brown already had one in the cooker when she started working with the guys from Scenic: Tear It Down, now the first single for Major Love’s new full-length album (recorded in Edmonton and also featuring Jesse Northey), to be released in February.

The song works on many levels. Personally, Brown says, “My tendency is to abandon something if I feel like it’s not working. For me, it’s symbolic that I’ve been doing this Colleen Brown music for a long time, working at it this way over the years, and it doesn’t seem to have come through yet, so what do I do?” Brown has six solo albums to her credit; Scenic Route to Alaska has eight.

She adds, “I was really starting to recognize that much as I love being a solo singer songwriter, the thing I love about music the most is being with other human beings and working on a project together and having an exchange. I felt like what I needed to do to fulfill my creative instincts was be with other people where you’re tied in musically.”

Tear it Down can apply to any disruption, from the way the digital music business works (or doesn’t, as the case might be) to the seismic aftershocks of the #metoo movement. Talk in a recent interview turns briefly to the latter because Major Love’s show was originally scheduled at the Needle – shut down in November after allegations of sexual harassment.

“It feels like a good time for a song like that to come out, talking about tearing down something that’s not working and start over,” Brown says. “I think it’s appropriate for the time we’re in as a society: Breaking down our systems that aren’t working, and in the music community to question who we work with.”

And “tear it down” may also be good advice for anyone else not in the music business.

Brown says, “We’re getting so used to change on a regular basis. None of our lives stay the same, no matter what industry you’re into. Tech is moving forward at such fast clip we all have to be ready for change all the time.”

Of course, being musicians on the road most of the time, the members of Major Love are used to change.

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