Dougal Bain McLean has found his way.
The former Jon & Roy band member and well-known Victoria musician will release his first solo EP, The Path, on Saturday, Nov. 3. After a tumultuous year and nearly giving up music for good, McLean has battled his demons and crafted six tracks befitting a come-back album, rather than a debut.
“I was in this band, and that fell apart for me, and in this life-changing relationship with the love of my life, and then that ended. … and I just thought, ‘Well, shit. Maybe the world’s telling me to try something new.’”
A life-long violin player and music instructor, McLean was still teaching as the ground eroded around him. He found himself shirking live performances and instead, sealed into one of his classrooms, letting loose and literally wailing through his troubles.
“I used the instrument I was born with, my voice, and I took it to its absolute capacity. I finally had nothing left to lose, nothing left to save it for.”
What grew out of those classroom sessions are songs that showcase that gravelly, end-of-the-road voice with so much tenderness that you can’t help but get swept away by their feeling.
But it’s not all morose heartache: McLean is a master of finding a light heart in dark times. Deceptively upbeat songs like Hellbound Intention and Camino feature trumpets, catchy guitar riffs and sing-along choruses, a compliment to the quieter reflection of Kids in Love and violin voicings of Thunder Road.
McLean has planned two intimate EP release shows to mark his debut, one at Wood Hall in Victoria on Nov. 3, and the other in Vancouver. Both will feature special cameos by local musicians, and both will treat the audience to some very good, very honest music.
The road to The Path may have been a bumpy one, but McLean stands as a confirmed musician at its end.