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First Play: Fortunate Ones, Hold Fast

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Holly Gordon

Three years isn’t a long stretch of time, but a lot has happened for the St. John’s duo Fortunate Ones since the release of its debut album in 2015.

The Bliss garnered Catharine Allen and Andrew James O’Brien a 2016 Juno nomination for contemporary roots album of the year, won them the 2016 East Coast Music Award for rising star recording of the year, a 2015 Canadian Folk Music Award for vocal group of the year and four 2015 Music Newfoundland and Labrador Awards. Plus, last year, the two got married.

Now Allen and O’Brien have a sophomore album, Hold Fast, to release, and it’s a polished, poppy affair full of their beautiful harmonies, plus some writing collaborations with fellow Newfoundlanders Alan Doyle, Meg Warren and Tim Baker.

From the blast-off of opening track “Northern Star” to the slow sway of closer “Runaway,” Allen and O’Brien showcase how they’ve become tighter — and more pop-forward — one track at a time. On “Don’t Let it be Us,” the track co-written with Repartee’s Warren, Allen and O’Brien sing of seeing a relationship through the tough times over a feet-to-the-fire drumbeat, giving the song an urgency and repeat-worthy quality. “Somebody Like You” follows with a similar message on the endurance of love, with Allen and O’Brien swapping verse for verse on lead vocals, coming together for the chorus. The interplay of their voices is seamless throughout Hold Fast.

Recorded with producer Daniel Ledwell in Lake Echo, N.S., Hold Fast also features musical contributions from Kinley Dowling (formerly of Hey Rosetta!), Jim Bryson, the Good Lovelies and Begonia’s Alexa Dirks.

Listen to Hold Fast for one week in advance of its release on Old Farm Pony Records (founded by Rose Cousins). Pre-order it here.

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