by Scott Roos
*Heidi Munro and Scott Patrick perform at the EA Rawlinson Centre for the Arts
For Saskatchewan scene stalwarts Heidi Munro and Scott Patrick their inevitable merger into the solid unit we know today was far from accidental. For years the pair had travelled in the same circles based on Munro's country roots as a solo artist and Patrick's successes as a guitarist of Saskatoon's Wyatt. After a while, it just made sense for them to work together and forge something new. The result, the aptly titled Munro & Patrick, is the union of two stylistically diverse, soulful, like minded artists whose natural ability to write songs together that realistically portray the hardships and struggles of mature romantic relationships has proven very fruitful thus far.
"We knew of each other in the circuit. At the time that Scott was really heavy into Wyatt I was sort of discovering a real blues, roots, sorta jazz thing but I still did a lot of country shows. We were hired for the same gig in Saskatoon and things just kinda fell together. We just kinda worked in a whole bunch of projects together," explained Munro in a recent conversation with NSMZ.
"It was in the summer of 2018. Heidi had hired me for a couple of duo shows that she was doing. So she gave me 50-75 songs for a gig," chuckles Patrick, "I thought I better get my act together and do well on this to get the next gig. It was fun."
"It worked out well," added Munro.
As the pair performed more and more together, the next natural step in their artistic relationship seemed to be to start writing together. It was a bold move but, if the pair wanted to continue the momentum they had achieved, setting pen to paper was worth a shot. And then, of course, COVID19 reared its ugly head and there was all the more reason to step back and see if the vibe on stage would transfer over to the studio.
"We started doing shows as a duo and probably about a year into it decided we should write together and see what happens. Then we were both pleasantly surprised with the product. It was a lot of fun to write and we kinda work off each other and get great ideas and the stuff that we are writing we enjoy," continued Patrick, "People were asking at shows and we didn't have anything. Then as it turned out with COVID just having some extra time we might as well get the songs that we had written that we felt we strong we would start recording."
The end result is the seven song debut outing entitled Give Me Your Rain. It's primarily a rootsy, bluesy affair with touches of country thrown in to give it just enough twang to get some FM spins. It's easy listening, reminiscent of many great duos of the past. The one that may spring to mind based on the give and take nature of many of the songs on the record are Ronstadt and Neville. Although Patrick's voice is a far cry from Aaron Neville's he still knows how to assert it in just the right ways to match the precision and beauty of Munro's own vocal finesses.
"I started out like a lot of Saskatchewan artists in the country scene. I still love country music but I felt like I was missing something. Maybe I felt like I was getting a little disenchanted with it... I wanted to be challenged a little bit and I started discovering Beth Hart, Susan Tedeschi. I did a lot of jazz stuff like old jazz artists. I love R&B. I love motown music and we've been lucky to do a lot of that music too in live shows. It's always been a little edgy for me," explained Munro of her influences.
"Branching out you learn different colours and styles. Stuff you may not have enjoyed as a young player you find the beauty in it and go from there. It just layers onto your playing where I'll write something with this in mind," remarked Patrick when explaining his tasteful playing on the record, " Every day I want to learn something different on guitar. For a while I'll be into learning some jazz stuff and then I'll maybe learn some country licks. Then The different jobs I had you just have to be able to play different stuff. Then it all kinda runs together."
Collectively, then, the pair has been able to find common ground in their writing and have created something exciting and fresh. A lot of the writing has a natural flow to it. It's not contrived. Munro & Patrick rarely disagree and it's evident in the product. They have also spent a lot of time writing together these days due to COVID. As a result, the music they make has a very organic vibe.
"Most of the time it's been pretty give both ways and there's never been a time where it's like 'oh that's terrible'. It's usually 'I really like where this is going and maybe this can be the title or this can be the direction musically it can go.' Usually we don't bring each other even a half done song. It's usually just kind of an idea. So it kind of works out pretty organically that way I guess," said Patrick.
"We both tend to write pretty deep and pretty gritty. I think that that's the only way that you can really reach people. So you have to be vulnerable that way. We're pretty honest with each other when we're writing," added Munro, "With COVID it has been a blessing because we spent a long time working together and writing's really comfortable and our voices really work together."
Give Me Your Rain was released on March 22nd and is on most streaming platforms. If you are interested in physical copies, the best way to track them down is likely via the pair's website which can be found here. In the meantime, the pair are also nominated for a few SCMA award. NSMZ wishes them the best of luck. They made an appearance at the EA Rawlinson Centre in the fall but here's to hoping they can return to Prince Albert sooner as opposed to later.
"We are quite proud of this music. We just want it to be heard. We want the chance to perform it. In the recording process because we are a duo and that is kind of a blessing in the times we are in right now we wanted to record it not really big with big band sounds and a lot of instrumentation. We wanted to be able to transfer that to a live stage with just the two of us," says Munro.