TRACY McNeil describes the formation of Minor Gold as a "sidestep", but it's a duo she plans to take bounding forward.
Minor Gold is McNeil and her partner and Good Life bandmate, Dan Parsons, who is also a titan of Melbourne's Americana scene with his own material.
"We'd been pushing solo projects for easily 10 years, it was kind of exciting going out under something that isn't your name," McNeil says.
"It's freeing. That's just a byproduct of it, but creatively that's where we were."
For some it could be considered a risk. McNeil's 2020 album with her band The Good Life, You Be The Lightning, which was co-produced by Parsons, was the most critically-acclaimed of her career.
It was voted the 17th best album of 2020 by Double J and was nominated for best blues and roots release at the ARIAs.
But after leaving Melbourne amid the pandemic and relocating to Parsons' childhood hometown of Cedar Creek, outside Brisbane, the pair felt revitalised writing together.
"I can only speak for myself, but there was a temptation to diversify artistically," Parsons says.
"When two people are songwriters, it's inevitable at some point that they're going to try and write some songs.
"We got into that fairly early and it was painless. We seemed to have a real hand-in-glove connection with writing songs and singing and harmonising."
Minor Gold's first three singles support that claim. The country folk-flavoured Mona Lisa and Way With Words are both built around acoustic guitars and Parsons and McNeil's honeyed harmonies.
Third single Don't Change was released last week. It's a sunbathed slice of '70s Americana pop, capped off with a tasteful saxophone solo from Bullhorn's Andrew Ball.
The debut album is expected to arrive in early July. The overriding approach for the record was "less is more."
"It really is about our voices and the songs," Parsons says. "We feel the songs kind of do more talking than we can. The harmonies are probably the cornerstone of the sound."
After a long period off the road, McNeil and Parsons played their first Australian show under the Minor Gold name three weeks ago at the Port Fairy Folk Festival.
"We worked hard for 10 years so we're able to launch with something and Port Fairy was part of that strategy to work it up from the bottom again," McNeil says.
"In some ways we're able to do that and we're fortunate and that's come from a fan base that's already there and ready and excited to hear what we're gonna do next, so they come along for the ride.
"But in another way it's starting all over again. It's a lot, but exciting for us."
Minor Gold play the Eltham Hotel (April 2); Megan Hall, Dorrigo (April 7); Royal Hotel, Dungog (April 14); The Ship Inn, Newcastle (April 15); Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine (April 22), Archies Creek Hotel (April 29) and the Royal Oak Hotel, Launceston (May 19).
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