Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Good Lovelies are kind of having their moment.
That’s impressive considering the JUNO Award–winning roots-pop combo of Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough, and Susan Passmore are more than a decade into a career that has yielded four widely acclaimed studio albums, two Christmas collections (including 2019’s gorgeous Evergreen), two EPs, a live album, and a #1 single (“I See Gold” from 2018’s smash Shapeshifters) plus devoted fans in Europe, Australia, the U.S. and homeland Canada, where performances alongside the Toronto Symphony Orchestra are not unheard of.
The trio is poised to soar even higher in the roaring 2020s on every conceivable front. There’s recording new material and touring, sure, but also tangible green initiatives, a plan to achieve gender parity in the studio, a bold embrace of the digital age, and the release of their “Live Taping Show” from February 2019 which found the Good Lovelies and their five-piece band in peak form before rolling cameras on a gorgeous stage in Huntsville, Ontario.
The talented and hardworking Good Lovelies — guitar-wielding songwriters all, and queens of the goose bump–raising three-part harmony —wear age 13 (they formed in 2006) with grace and ambition. The best really is yet to come.
“Caroline and I have been purging our inboxes lately and have been noting the things that are exactly the same after 13 years of conversation,” Ough says. “‘What do you think of this artwork?’ ‘Do we need more bass on that song?’ It’s hilarious to look back and see the ways we have changed… and the ways we haven’t changed.
“I probably used more exclamation points in 2006,” Ough laughs, “and there are certain things we might have glossed over back then that we wouldn’t anymore. It’s a beautiful business and a beautiful life we have created, rooted in friendship, and I love it all.”
Definitely new for the Good Lovelies and at the top of their current agenda is their 2020 Forest Tour, launching in April and covering multiple Canadian provinces as well as Washington state. For each album or download card sold at these shows, Brooks, Ough, and Passmore will plant two trees in Burk’s Falls, ON, an area dear to the band’s heart.
The campaign launched with great success last winter during their annual Christmas tour, resulting in 2,300 trees being contributed to the forest plan, and is part of a sweeping green scheme touching every part of the Good Lovelies’ business model.
“We have become increasingly conscious of our carbon footprint as a band and it’s challenging because we have to travel for a living,” Brooks says. “Tree planting is a great way to offset emissions.
“It gives the tour an umbrella, and people are really connecting to it. We don’t know what the final number of trees will be by the end of the tour in June but we’re hoping to get as high as 5,000 trees total.”
And as Passmore explains, concertgoers attending the 2020 Forest Tour — also featuring long-time Good Lovelies collaborator, ace guitarist and lap steel player Christine Bougie — have additional opportunities to reduce waste while pondering everyone’s impact on the planet.
“The copies of Evergreen we sell at our shows are not shrink-wrapped. We promise they’re brand new, they just don’t have that extra plastic wrap that people immediately throw away,” Passmore says. “There’s no way around that at the retail level yet, but we can control it at our shows.
“We are trying to be more responsible in general. We bring our own reusable water bottles and coffee mugs on tour. Meals served before the show are requested not to arrive in Styrofoam or plastic containers. We can’t wait until touring with an electric minivan or tour bus is a viable option,” she says.
“We are constantly brainstorming what else we can do to help the environment, and especially, new ways of sharing our music, of packaging things, so we are not creating so much waste, particularly plastic waste.”
That desire to eliminate waste dovetails nicely with the Good Lovelies’ newfangled plan to release completed songs piecemeal rather than waiting to amass an entire album’s worth of music. In addition to being contemporary and digital-friendly, the concept “liberates us from the Big Album Project,” Brooks says.
“Why not release a finished song to our fans sooner than later? It’s still very early stages; we haven’t worked out all of the details and we are still working on new songs,” Brooks notes, adding that a full album may drop in 2021. “But this is directly related to a shift in the industry with a focus on individual songs rather than albums.”
Also new and noteworthy in Good Lovelies land: “We are focusing on recording new songs with female producers.”
Brooks continues: “We have worked with amazing men. Every one of our records has been produced by men and we love them all. But we also know women with amazing talent.”
So yes, 2020 is shaping up to be a blockbuster year for the Good Lovelies and for their fans worldwide. “A touring musician’s life isn’t easy,” Ough says, a comment echoed by Passmore and Brooks, who leave children behind when they hit the road.
Ough continues: “But I wouldn’t trade what we have going on now for anything, even given the occasional hardships. Here we are all these years later with nine different recordings, and with so many amazing memories and experiences. Making music for a living is weird, but it’s also so much fun.”
Awards and Nominations
Nominee 2012 - Roots & Traditional Album of the Year, Group Album "Let The Rain Fall"
Winner 2010- Roots & Traditional Album of the Year, Group Album "Good Lovelies"
Canadian Folk Music Awards
Nominee 2018 - Vocal Group of the Year, Album - Shapeshifters
Nominee 2015 - Vocal Group of the Year, Album - Burn The Plan
Nominee 2015 - Ensemble of the Year, Album - Burn The Plan
Winner 2013 - Vocal Group of the Year, Album - Live At Revolution
Winner 2013 - Ensemble of the Year, Album - Live At Revolution
Winner 2011 - Vocal Group of the Year, Album - Let The Rain Fall
Nominee 2011 - Contemporary Album of the Year, Album - Let The Rain Fall
Winner 2009; New/Emerging Artist of the Year Album - Good Lovelies