Nfld. & Labrador·First Listen

The pandemic brought musician Colleen Power from a band project to her newest solo EP

The time spent at home away from her band proved to be plentiful for Colleen Power, who wrote her newest EP, Tales from Downtown West, in the first two weeks of February.

Have a First Listen to Tales from Downtown West by Colleen Power

Musician Colleen Power wrote the songs on her new EP, Tales from Downtown West, over the course of two weeks in February. (Chris LeDrew/Submitted by Colleen Power)

When Colleen Power was working on recording her latest album with the Colleen Power Band in 2019, she likely wouldn't have been able to predict that her next release was actually going to be a solo EP.

"Because of the pandemic, we had to put the brakes on that," Power told CBC Radio's Weekend AM. "I was looking at the RPM Challenge and I thought, 'Well, can I do it?"

Power said she has entered the challenge before, which gives musicians from around the world 28 days to write and release a new single or album, but had never signed up as an individual artist.

The time spent at home away from her band proved to be plentiful; she wrote her newest EP, Tales from Downtown West, in the first two weeks of February and released it on SingSong later in March.

"It's eclectic, and the instrumentation is eclectic," she said. "Even though I didn't have my band, I managed to play a pile of different instruments myself.… I would go with 'jack of all trades, master of none' when it comes to instruments."

The instruments played by Power help bring different flavours to the album, from the subtle ukulele and percussion of Purple Aster to the harmonies on the aptly named NL Sea Shanty. As the creative process progressed, she said the album turned into a kind of therapy through the challenges of the pandemic.

"I think for myself it was a necessity. Not having played live in such a long period of time, not playing with my band, I think I was going crazy not playing music," she said. "It was kind of like a spark, it was something I had to do. For myself, I had to do it to remain sane."

LISTEN | Musician Colleen Power speaks with the CBC's Maggie Gillis about her new EP, Tales from Downtown West:

Colleen Power tells Maggie Gillis about the Downtown Grouse and other stories behind her new EP. 20:38

She said it's hard to turn off the creative spark once it comes to her, comparing it to the idea of writing a song about wanting to quit music after she thinks of life without music.

It's something Power hopes to carry into her future projects, including continuing her work with the Colleen Power Band and a special French-language project a decade in the making.

"It's based on francophones, French people in Newfoundland history. French characters. I've been researching it for over 10 years, and finally getting the ball rolling on the writing."

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Alex Kennedy works for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John's.

With files from Weekend AM


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