Mary Lou Minor Trio “Once Was a Time” (Independent, 2017)
Jonathan AirdPosted onOctober 19, 2017
You’ll doubtless recall that Green on Red’s Dan Stuart boldly sang “Time ain’t nothing / When you’re young at heart / And your soul still burns” with all the fervour of a young man. Add a few years to the tally and things, it seems, often take on more of the perspective embodied on Mary Lou Minor’s latest album. This offers a more mature view on the world, a world where a phrase from Dropped Stitches such as “in your own mind you’re feeling quite different / and in your own mind you’re still 39” makes sense.
The Mary Lou Minor Trio are a guitar based country-folk unit with – of course – songwriter Mary Lou Minor on rhythm guitar and vocals whilst Rob Sheele adds additional guitar and banjo and Tom Bruno plays lead guitar. There’s some fine weeping pedal steel on songs such as Old Cold Time contributed by Ted Bertin and Logan McNeil adds mandolin to the mix. The album that they’ve created has songs that are full of the disappointments of life – the loves that didn’t stick, the conflicted needs and wants, the tightrope balances of everyday living. Old Cold Time questions the motives of a philandering partner, and wonders how a hot love has turned to cold ashes with a plaintive “And I wonder what she’s giving you that you don’t get from me”. Two Years Gone could almost be the new girl a couple of years down the line “Now when we meet the rules are clear / You’ve got your way and I’ve got mine / We stand with backs against the mirror / Our intentions undefined”. And the title track (which may make you think a little of a slowed down Bottle of Wine) is lost love pure and simple, reflecting on opportunities that slipped away as another woman marries that man “There once was a time when our future was present / There wasn’t a past to forget”. Lost opportunities, love grown cold, time passing.
Which is not to say that this is an album of only heartbreak – there’s positive nostalgia as well. The Better Parts of Me is a fast tempo celebration of a sturdy and trustworthy male role model “He was a man of chosen words and mischief in his eye / He’d befriend the poorest stranger and he’d never question why / He wasn’t blessed with wealth; he was content with what he had / I learned the better parts of me from watching Dad”. With chirping and burbling guitar it’s a definite toe-tapper. Big Old House is a banjo enriched recollection of childhood, sure, tinged with sadness at how the world has changed, but with positive feelings too of growing up in a warm and loving family. It’s a Canadian take on a traditional country mix – mom and dad brought you up right, but it can be hard being an adult. It’s how well it handles these well worn verities that marks Once Was a Time as an album worth listening to.
Life can be hard and confusing, love can slip away - but at least we've still got the music.
CD Review: Mary Lou Minor Trio Once Was a Time (Independent) [Release date September 15, 2017]
Richard Hutton, Niagara This Week, August 30, 2017
It's always a little jarring to these jaded ears -- weaned on the loud, distorted guitars and pounding beats of punk and hard rock music -- to hear something out of the norm. And nothing could be further from my normal listening than this disc from the Mary Lou Minor Trio.
Drenched in pedal steels, soft bass and rich acoustic sounds, it's traditional country music the way it should be played. Once Was A Time is as far away from today's country, full of anthemic foot stompers, as can be. This is the stuff you would have heard in some dusty Midwest roadhouse decades ago, albeit with some modern polish.
Minor delivers songs of heartache and wistful memories with conviction while the work of bandmates Rob Sheele and Tom Bruno is brimming with perfect, almost soulful, feeling. It's also a nice change to hear storytelling in song, rather than bragging about trucks and out-and-out jingoism favoured by some of today's country elite.
It's not surprising that two tunes -- The Better Parts of Me and Big Old House -- were finalists for the OAC Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award in 2016 and 2015 respectively.
Once Was A Time is a gem worth discovering for fans of the genre.
CD Review: Mary Lou Minor & Travellers Fare, I Won't Miss You (Independent)
Richard Hutton, Niagara Life Magazine, July 5, 2014
Port Colborne-based Mary Lou Minor describes her music as a blend of country, folk and blues -- roots music. What she has done on I Won't Miss You is serve up 14 tracks that harken back to country's roots with abundant fiddles and pedal steel guitars that interweave their way through easy going lyric driven tunes. Modern production gives the music a new shine that makes it sound fresh.
The album's title track has been chosen as a finalist in the Great American Song Contest in the singer-songwriter category. It has also received airplay on CBC Radio as well as western Canadian radio stations. Minor and her band were also nominees for Country Group of the Year at the 2013 Niagara Music Awards.
This is not typical of what passes for country music today as performed by the likes of Carrie Underwood and Shania Twain. This is genuine music that has more Patsy Cline and Hank Williams rather than Taylor Swift. Minor's music is simple and filled with authenticity. It's very clear she loves what she does.
Standout tracks include I Won't Miss You, Called Your Number and Talking 'bout The Weather.
Daniel Romano Comments on Album, I Won't Miss You
Once there was the Chuck Wagon Gang, and they sang 'after the sunrise how happy we'll be'. that was a time when the idea of happiness was simple and easily found in the most common places. Nowadays, the sunrise starts the day and then...the day starts...and then...and then soon...it ends. And what happened within that day? did you find happiness? Maybe...but did you look for it? Did you expect it? Or did it fall in your lap? today, you lucky so-and-so, happiness has fallen into your lap. So, I hope you get up early in the morning, and you smile, and open up those bored, tired ears.
Kris Kadwell, "Paddling Beyond The Mainstream" on 100.9 CANOE FM
March 10, 2011
I was so fortunate to happen across, and feature Mary Lou Minor and her band Three Penny Opus, live in the radio station during one of my programs. Mary Lou writes and sings her songs and you are certain she has lived them because of their depth and sensitivity. From a radio host's perspective, one finds themselves hesitant to probe into the inspiration of the writer and the singer because she has already convinced you with incredible vocal skills and her sincere delivery of every word in every song. Her vocals draw the listener into the story of the song, almost to the point of not noticing the amazing talent of the musicians she has surrounded herself with.
"Much enjoyed -- will look for you. We especially enjoyed your song You are the One. We have been married 44 years-it's a special bond not everybody experiences.You certainly have it! Why aren't you in Nashville? You have it!"
"I love [I Won't Miss You] and also your new CD, Once Was A Time. Keep up the good singing. It’s hard to find good country singers now."
"Very glad I got to see you this year. I always love your shows but this was the best one yet! I love the new songs, you keep getting better and better! Looking forward to seeing you guys play again."
"I am looking forward to [receiving]the album. Wish I was near enough to see you live!"
"I received the cd about a week ago and have been enjoying it ever since. Your songs of love and loss and age and what lasts touch me deeply. Thank you and your excellent group for making such lovely and lasting music."
"Thoughtful and wonderfully expressive lyrics. Just love the music very much -- a story in every song -- a moment captured" Any Womble, Dundee, Angus, UK
"I recieved the CDs I ordered today (Once Was A Time) and could not be more pleased or impressed with your lovely music and your presentation of it so I've made the logical next step, and ordered your other album to boot." Charles Minor (yep -- but no relation), Hopewell, Virginia.