Collaborations among local musicians are quite common for RPM projects. There have been many, but to single out two, Annie McEwen and Aine MacLellan have worked both together and apart on various RPM albums. They’re shining examples of the power of pals hitting record together.
Annie McEwen was one of 4 songwriters on Caribou Horses’ 2013 offering, Songs for Mal. This semi-legendary one-off RPM project was a collaboration among some of St. John’s finest songwriters: Joanna Barker, Bryan Power (Pilot to Bombardier), and a since-emigrated CFA: Rebecca South.
Each songwriter penned a few songs and joined each other on their contributions. For a lot of us, it was a first time hearing from Annie McEwen, and she floored us with every aspect of her songwriting: a voice that shines like the Northern Lights, an original and striking approach to the guitar, and great lyrics. Her work is altogether solid, arresting stuff.
The Confidence Club’s 2012 offering saw Annie and Aine in collaboration for a collection of each other’s songs that melded Annie’s beautiful, aching songs with Aine’s hookier, happier takes on romance – the harmonies will haunt you, if not squash the bejesus out of your poor heart. See “Barnacle Blues” and “Apple Core” for two should-be St. John’s classics.
Aine’s more recent collaboration was The Ginger Snaps’ Runs with Wolves (2014). Her sidekick this time was Jen Cake, a roommate turned bandmate. The two would hear each other playing songs through their walls, and sing along or shout encouraging remarks, until the light bulb went off: let’s do an RPM?
It’s folk in its purest, no drums form. In fact there’s very minimal instrumentation, just a pile of catchy uke-and-guitar based songs, with some clever lyrics more sweet than a banana split.