Mama’s Broke have spent the past eight years in a near-constant state of transience, pounding the transatlantic tour trail. They’ve brought their dark, fiery folk-without-borders sound to major festivals and DIY punk houses alike, absorbing traditions from their maritime home in Eastern Canada all the way to Ireland and Indonesia. Nowhere is the duo’s art-in-motion approach more apparent than on their long-awaited sophomore record Narrow Line (May 13, 2022 on Free Dirt Records); it’s the sound of nowhere in particular, yet woven with a rich synthesis of influences that knows no borders. It earned them a JUNO nomination for Traditional Roots Album of the Year 2022. The eleven songs on Narrow Line burrow deeply, with close harmony duets, commanding vocals, and poignant contemplations on cycles of life, including birth and death. Tinges of Americana stand side-by-side with the ghosts of Eastern European fiddle tunes and ancient a cappella ballad singing, melding into an unusually accessible dark-folk sound. A careful listen of Narrow Line invokes an ephemeral sense of place—whether real or imagined—inviting us to take comfort in the infinite possibilities of life, whether or not we ever choose to settle down.
For a group defined by constant touring, it’s not surprising that the two artists that make up Mama’s Broke, Lisa Maria and Amy Lou Keeler, met on the road. As Lisa remembers it, “Amy was driving her old Mercedes from Montreal to Nova Scotia and I was looking for a ride. We spent the 17 hours in the car talking almost exclusively about music. By the time we reached Halifax we started playing together, and within a week or two became a band.” Both coming out of traveling communities that are focused on music and protest, the two owe the way in which they move through the world to the integrated and self-sustaining nature of DIY culture and activism. It was a busy life that took them on a roundabout annual touring schedule running between Canada, the United States, Ireland, the UK, and Europe. In each country, they built grassroots DIY communities to support their music or moved along the pathways of communal organizing that sustained other touring artists.
The driving force behind this band is – and has always been – the commitment to challenge borders between people, places, and traditions; while encouraging freedom of expression and community through music.
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