Photo Jen Squires
Photo Jen Squires

Essentials… with Caroline Marie Brooks

Each week, Essentials allows Canadian musicians to share the things that have helped get through through the pandemic, and why they still can’t live without them.

On Everything at the Same Time, the first solo outing for Caroline Marie Brooks, one-third of Canadian harmony trio Good Lovelies, she walks listeners through a wall of stories, taking moments from her life down and carefully recounting the feeling of the sun and the wind in the trees from days past and present.

Over 11 tracks, Brooks’ divine vocals lead a vivid journey accompanied by gentle guitar work, Wurlitzers, mandolins and steel guitar that evokes memories both lost and found. Lead single Vitamin captures it all with a sense of sun-drenched nostalgia, setting the overall tone of an album that feels wholly familiar yet distinctly Brooks’ own vision.

Everything at the Same Time is a pandemic record only in time, recorded and co-produced with Jim Bryson at his Fixed Hinge studio in Stittsville, Ontario, as well as sessions at Dream Date Studio in Toronto, and at the homes across southern Ontario of many of the musicians who contributed to the album.

In the midst of an age when sometimes living through our memories of easier days may be all that we have, Everything at the Same Time asks only that we live and be present in the moment and to remember that though the days are long, the years are all too short. The inevitability of change looms in the distant, and Caroline Marie Brooks challenges her audience to hold on to the gift of the times we are in.

Everything at the Same Time by Caroline Marie Brooks is out Sept. 24 and can be purchased or streamed here


Essential Album: Jennah Barry, Holiday (Forward Music Group, 2020)

This is my most listened to record of the last 18 months, hands down. During the early days of the pandemic, the songs on this album gave me such a comforting feeling, like what you get on a sunny Sunday morning sipping coffee in your kitchen with the full day stretching out before you. Her melodies are so satisfying, and I find her chord changes unexpected and delightful. She’s one of my favourite songwriters, Canadian or otherwise, and I think she’s totally underrated as an artist.

Essential Book: Mary Oliver, Devotions (Penguin, 2017)

I’ve been really into this great poetry anthology by Mary Oliver. I have been reading it bit by bit, over and over, not rushing and just savouring each poem. Oliver dwells in a space that I also spend a lot of time in; the wonder at the magic of nature, and feeling both tiny and part of something great and miraculous. Her religion is nature, and I dig that big time.

Essential TV: Parks and Recreation (NBC, 2009-2015)

Unlike poetry and songs, my general M.O. with TV is mindlessness. I spend quite a lot of time writing and thinking about issues related to parenting, climate change and my insecure job in the arts, so when I put the TV on I want to be taken away to somewhere funny and charming, not scary and not too dramatic. My favourite of late has been revisiting Parks and Recreation. It’s all the things I love in television—smart and funny, and great character development over many seasons. Plus, having worked a bit in non-profit/government positions it’s also spot-on in calling out the inefficiencies in government, in a hilarious way.

Essential Movie: My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

I lean toward television over movies, but I have to note this one as a recent fave, even though it came out when I was just little kid. I’d never watched the Studio Ghibli movies before last year, but my children and I have been going through them one by one. It started with My Neighbor Totoro, a totally charming and bizarre animated film about two young girls and their adventures with woodland spirits in Japan. What I love about this movie—aside from it being totally cute—is what I love about certain songs. They are unpredictable, a bit off the beaten path, and don’t follow a form that I’m used to. And the Dad in the movie, university prof Tatsuo Kusakabe, is perhaps the most handsome movie character ever.

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