Yellowknife musician Mary Caroline has released her debut album, Life On Earth.
The 32-year-old will play a series of shows across Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to promote the new album, plus an appearance at the Folk Alliance International Showcase in Kansas City on February 8.
Caroline divides her time between Toronto and the Northwest Territories, and says her cabin outside Yellowknife inspired much of Life On Earth.
“I think it’s a pretty big influence, especially the time I spend out at my cabin. It’s probably almost a little too solitary out there,” Caroline joked in an interview with the New York-based Joy of Violent Movement blog.
“But you take inspiration from the power of nature. Sometimes, when you remove yourself from day-to-day urban living and then come back into it, it’s easier to observe social nuances and people’s behaviours.”
Caroline taught herself to play the guitar as a teenager before moving to the North at the age of 23, where she found people prepared to encourage her musical ambitions. “I’d never really had people in my corner like that before,” she recalled.
Eliciting comparisons with Norah Jones and listing Leonard Cohen as an influence, Caroline’s debut album arrives in the week that two other artists with Yellowknife connections – Leela Gilday and Tanya Tagaq – received nominations for Juno awards.
She says her album reflects the recent influence of shows in the Canadian Prairies, where country rules the airwaves, while life in Toronto has forced her to “up her game” musically.
But Life On Earth’s songs still hark back to life in the Northwest Territories.
“Some of the northern imagery comes from personal experience, too,” she said, picking out Full Moon as an example track. “Being out on the land, like in Full Moon – crossing thin ice, being in a blizzard, wolves coming after you and stuff.”
Caroline is “almost embarrassed” by the video for Such A Liar, the first single to be taken from the album, which she filmed herself in an old farmhouse on property owned by her mother.
“I didn’t have a crew or anything, I shot that whole video on my own. In the end, I just went out and did it in a day without a ton of planning,” she said.
She returns to Yellowknife to play Top Knight on April 11, and can be seen at the Ptarmigan Inn in Hay River on March 26, as well as Fort Providence’s Snowshoe Inn a day later.
On iTunes: Mary Caroline – Life On Earth
Facebook: Mary Caroline