Most fans of popular music have come across Sean McConnell's work at some point, be it from his involvement with Nashville (the TV series and the city's music scene), his kinship with Texas country musicians Wade Bowen and the Randy Rogers Band, his singer-songwriter output or songs cut by Brothers Osborne, Rascal Flatts, David Nail, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Meat Loaf, Buddy Miller and the Plain White T's.
Now there's yet another way to discover McConnell's talents: power trio My Sister, My Brother. The tandem of McConnell, Grammy-nominated songwriter Garrison Starr and prolific, multi-talented artist Peter Groenwald shared a self-titled, five song EP of dynamic, harmony-driven originals on March 6.
Additional work on the plates of three very busy artists came to them unexpectedly during a writing camp in Nashville, not as a calculated business move.
"Concord Music put us in a room together to write a song for the day, and we wrote what became our first single, 'Nothing Without You,' and we fell in love with it and really enjoyed each other's company," McConnell says. "It felt like we'd done it for a long time right off the bat. We kept writing songs and decided to put some time into this and make an EP and put it out in the world."
McConnell and Starr's shared vocals bring well-written, emotional story-songs to life throughout the EP, earning the trio comparisons to Americana icons The Civil Wars.
"Right off the bat, it felt very familial and like, oh wow, we're kind of reading each other's minds," McConnell says. "It's not hard to sing harmonies and melodies with each other."
The first batch of My Sister, My Brother songs resonated with McConnell on the same level as the material in his solo catalog, from his first album as a Georgia-based high school student, Here in the Lost and Found (2000), to his introduction to red dirt country, Saints, Thieves, Liars (2009), his self-titled Rounder Records debut (2016) and last year's Secondhand Smoke.
"The songs themselves felt like songs I'd release on a solo record," he adds. "They felt that important and real to me. And just the way the three of us got along and performed together and wrote. There's so many factors that made it stand out as, 'Oh, this is more than just songwriting. This is a project.'"
Per McConnell, he didn't really know Starr or Groenwald before that fateful writer's camp, proving that magic happens when a co-write goes right. In this case, perfect strangers' combined talents led to something collaborative that sounds deeply personal.
"For a lot of songwriters, that type of song is what we love: A really honest, emotional song that touches the heart and that speaks to people from all different walks of life," McConnell adds. "We've got a lot of those on this EP. Lightning struck a bunch of times, and we were really lucky to get these tunes."