Tackling subjects from the light-hearted and upbeat to the meatier stuff of life, Big Little Lions are set to tour and launch a new record.
And both happen during their stop in Red Deer Feb. 23rd at a house concert.
The duo’s (Helen Austin and Paul Otten) third studio CD features 13 originals that deliver their ‘signature pop-folk shimmer’ with an edge inspired by the polarity of our world. As noted in their bio, “Alive and Well dances from songs that acknowledge human frailty and modern preoccupations to anthems of hope and resistance.”
“The third album is a bit different,” explained Austin during a recent chat from Vancouver Island. “It took a bit of a political turn.”
She admits that it was pretty tough to sidestep the almost constant political turbulence seen around the world and particularly here in North America as her lyrics were taking shape. Austin said some of her thoughts and notions on such topics seeped into the music.
“So it’s a little bit darker – but there is still definitely an upbeat vibe to it!”
The album brims with that brand of uniqueness that these two bring to every project they are involved with, from the catchy opening cut Find Your Tribe. Against the Wall takes a more contemplative tone with an intensity in the music to match. The percussive foundation of Come This Far is pretty much irresistible with its sunlit melody.
Meanwhile, the Alive and Well tour will see the Lions perform across the prairies, around the Great Lakes and beyond, dotting a final line of concerts from Ohio all the way to Florida.
Big Little Lions are two successful solo songwriters and musicians who rose to greater heights after joining forces in 2013. Prior to that, they were indeed making their mark, and Austin calls their eventual collaboration something of a “happy accident.”
She had asked Otten to contribute to a kids’ album she had been working on, and it became clear these two should be working together.
Interestingly, there backgrounds in music really couldn’t be more different. Austin was raised largely in the classical vein, while Otten came from a background more immersed in the popular music of his growing up years.
“We had very little popular music in our home,” she explains of her youth, which included studying classical flute. But eventually, that just wan’t cutting it in terms of her desire to further express her creativity. She started writing her own songs when she was about 11. In the meantime, she was also honing her skills on the violin and piano as well.
Since joining forces, the pair has won an armful of awards for their work including first place in the International Songwriting Competition, Song of the Year in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, and Ensemble of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
With Austin based on Vancouver Island and Otten based in Cincinnati, the duo have been bridging geographic and cultural distances since their first collaboration when Otten produced Austin’s 2014 Juno-winning album Colour It.
Big Little Lions have also played renowned festivals including Shelter Valley, Islands Folk Fest, Mariposa, Summerfolk, the Alianait Arts Festival, the Paper City Music Festival, and the Vancouver Island Music Fest.
These days, they are excited about hitting the road and playing an intimate venue in Red Deer.
“We love house concerts! It’s the best of both worlds – you get to talk and visit, too.”
For more information about their local show, visit https://biglittlelions.com/tour.