ANYBODY that loves Americana music would have adored Tracy McNeil & The Goodlife’s emotional third album Thieves last year.
The record oozed ‘70s Californian warmth in the realm of Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles and was written in the lead-up to the death of McNeil’s father – Canadian country musician Wayne McNeil. Subsequently, many doors opened for the Melbourne five-piece.
A year on, McNeil is slowly building a collection of songs for album No.4, planned for release next winter.
“I’ve been writing on electric guitar and piano, which I did a bit on the last album and it’s a different thing because I can barely play the piano,” McNeil said in between classes at her day job of teaching high school drama, dance and music.
“There’s something interesting that happens when you pick up a different instrument to write songs on. The songs might be a little poppier I guess. Who knows? It’s too early to tell.”
There’s been changes also to her Goodlife line-up, which is being reflected in the sound.
McNeil’s husband and Raised By Eagles frontman Luke Sinclair has left the group due to conflicting tour schedules and been replaced by keyboardist Brendan McMahon.
McNeil and The Goodlife are expected to unveil two of their finished new compositions on the upcoming spring break tour.
After the success and emotional weight of Thieves, McNeil admits she’s feeling pressured to deliver another quality batch of songs.
“I’m not thinking too much about style, whatever is coming out is coming out,” she said.
“I do feel like Thieves was such a personal album and came from a personal place with me losing my father while I was writing it, it’s a real special album for me and it did so well for us.
“There’s a little bit of feeling that we’ve got to not only live up to that, but try to push past it and keep growing as a band and me as a songwriter and not let the quality slip.”
On Thieves McNeil expressed her grief about her father’s death on songs like Ashes, and she said lyrically the new material is analysing what happens next when you lose someone you love.
“Luke [Sinclair] went through the lost of my dad with me as part of my family and his album I Must Be Somewhere kind of eludes to this idea of what happens in the end? Where do you go?,” she said.
“So we’re kind of asking the big questions and I’m on a similar vein.
“I’m looking a little bit at astrology and the stars and pondering about what hand does destiny play?
“Is it written in the stars or are we making our own choices?”
Tracy McNeil & The Goodlife kick-start their Spring Break Tour at Maitland's Grand Junction Hotel on September 22.