Fortunate Ones

Harmony happens when disparate parts form an organic whole. To work towards it takes dedication. To find it is fortunate.

In 2011, Andrew James O’Brien and Catherine Allan were playing in Andrew James O’Brien and the Searchers, and released the much-praised Songs for Searchers. Their searching paid off: they reconfigured as a duo, got signed to a Rose Cousins’ record label, recorded their debut album with legendary producer Daniel Ledwell (Jenn Grant, Rich Aucoin, Don Brownrigg), and began 2015 by announcing their off-stage engagement to each other.

It’s little surprise that the band name they found was Fortunate Ones. Or that their album, available February 10, would be titled The Bliss. “We get to do this for a living, but it’s not a right. It’s a complete privilege. When we’re driving through the Rockies, or we’re on a flight to Carolina, or we’re sitting and writing music or preparing for a tour, it’s not lost on us,” O’Brien says.

The Bliss was recorded last February in Daniel Ledwell’s studio, on the edge of Lake Echo, outside Halifax. The band was drawn to Ledwell because of his work with Jenn Grant and Don Brownrigg, and loved that the rustic studio complemented their musical vision. “It sounded like that would be the perfect setting for us to get away and go focus our energy for a couple of weeks. The vibe that we’ve always had has been acoustic-based, and that goes really well with being in nature,” Allan explains.

Ledwell paired off their stripped-down sound with his own synth and organ flourishes to craft the style they were looking for. After recording, the band immediately toured from Winnipeg to Victoria. “It was a pretty surreal experience,” O’Brien recalls. “We were listening to mixes that Dan was sending back and forth to us, in headphones, trying to listen to the most detailed and intricate elements of the songs, while competing with 18-wheel trucks.”

When The Bliss drops, it will be released on Old Farm Pony Records, launched by Rose Cousins, no stranger to the east coast music scene. “She said that we kind of reminded her of her when she was just getting going,” O’Brien says, noting they were friends (and fans) before signing. “With this relationship comes her years of experience … I just feel like it puts us in a really great position for a first time release.”

What makes Fortunate Ones such a force is their incandescent chemistry, playing into their gorgeous harmonies, arrangements, and lyrics. They may be only two, but their sound carries. Seeing them onstage is nothing if not honest, but it also means the two have to strike a balance. “Nothing keeps your ego in check like your partner,” O’Brien laughs. “People that are in a relationship together that have separate 9-5s, it’s different. We are in each other’s lives 100%. We are very lucky in that we work really well together—we each have duties in the band, and we both know what we have to do, day-to-day. When we hit the road, that’s where that work pays off,” Allan adds.

That’s exactly what Fortunate Ones will do, hitting the road on February 11. After a circuit of the province, including Holy Heart on February 20, they will bring The Bliss throughout Atlantic Canada (supported by Juno-nominee Del Barber), and as far west as Ontario.

Searchers no more, the pursuit remains focused.“Everyone in the world is searching for something,” O’Brien muses.“If you’re completely satisfied with where you are, then there’s no point pursuing anything else. I definitely feel like we’re in pursuit of something.”

Article by Ryan Belbin; Photo by Joel Upshall