THE story starts with the awkward exuberance of that first flush of love, the dueling dopamine levels of two people drawn to each other.
But when fear and doubt creep in, phone calls go unreturned, and bad breath becomes a reality, love is at the risk of languishing.
That story is the centerpiece of a series of songs penned by Neil Osborne of 54-40 and Canadian country singer Jessie Farrell, slated to be performed Saturday night at Shipbuilders' Square, at 9 p.m. The two musicians took a diverse path to their collaboration.
Raised in Nova Scotia, Osborne didn't truly embrace music until his older brother formed a band.
"I used to be their biggest fan," he recalls. "I didn't pick up a guitar until I was 15."
Osborne's interest in music coincided nicely with his retirement from hockey.
"I played hockey till I was 15 and then everybody got big and I stayed small," he says. Osborne's first music lessons came from his brother.
"He had a couple guitars lying around and I kept bugging him to teach me and of course he didn't really want to," Osborne says.
But with the elder Osborne brother set to cover a 1970s soft rock standard, the siblings struck a deal.
"If I transcribed the words to The Eagles 'Lyin' Eyes' for his gig that night, he was going to teach me a D chord," Osborne recalls.
The agreement enabled Osborne to explore the art form he'd only known as a listener.
"I just started to make up my own tunes, not calling myself a songwriter, just like, 'Wow, this is music,'" he says.
For Farrell, raiding her parents' music collection and discovering the work of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Simon and Garfunkel was a strong influence.
"I always listened to country music, a lot of rootsy stuff. It all kind of blended together as singer-songwriters and storytelling."
The Juno-winner seems to have had no shortage of poetry to set to music, writing her first tunes at 10 and even penning a graduation song for her Grade 7 class. While Farrell dug her bootprints into the Canadian country landscape as a solo performer, Osborne rose to fame as the singer of one of Canada's most enduring rock bands.
"Brad (Merritt) and I started this thing in high school pretty much, so we weren't really the greatest musicians but we knew what we wanted to do and we got along pretty well," Osborne says. "We figured out pretty early on that A: it's not that hard to learn how to play to be in a rock band and B: it's more about chemistry than actual ability."
The group has released 13 albums and one EP over the last 30 years, recording hits like "I Go Blind," and the concert staple "Ocean Pearl."
"We're being accepted into the more classic rock world. We opened for REO Speedwagon at a festival in London, Ontario, and for Boston . . . and we went over quite well," he says. "When I was in high school, if I had told some of the girls I was opening for Boston I would've been a lot more popular. It would've been 35 years later, mind you."
Saturday night's set will likely begin with some 54-40 songs and a couple of Farrell's tunes before the duo, tentatively named Love Vigilantes, perform their new tracks.
The two were introduced by a mutual friend who thought a collaboration might produce an interesting song.
That first meeting produced promising material, but the promise went unfulfilled until the musicians found themselves neighbours on Vancouver Island.
"I think the first time that I got together with her she was a little upset because one of her friends was in a relationship gone bad and she was trying to offer advice and for some reason we just started talking about relationships," Osborne says. "Next thing we started writing songs about the journey of a relationship right from the first time when you first meet someone, you first connect with those eyes and you're like, 'Hey, there's some sparks flying here I can tell.' When I met my wife that's how it was."
Answering questions while her eight-month-old daughter tests her considerable lungpower, Farrell discusses the unlikely nature of their collaboration.
"We come from really different musical backgrounds," she says. "We just found that as we were writing these songs our voices worked really well together as a duet."
While the duo diverge musically, they were joined by a similar perspective.
"It certainly wasn't our musical sensibility. It wasn't at all. We have very different ways of writing," Farrell says of their collaboration. "We both have a real interest in the human condition."
Osborne, who Farrell referred to as a guru, used a spiritual basis to ground the songs.
"I was studying some Zen Buddhism for awhile and I did a couple of the retreats. It's very similar to that," he says of the story arc in the songs.
The influence of Zen Buddhism is apparent in the story's focus on the knowledge gained after a fall from grace.
Farrell and Osborne are each hard at work on their own albums.
"I've got a handful of demos right now," Farrell says, having just returned from a writer's retreat to sharpen her songwriting. "In about 20 minutes I'll be on Skype with a writer that I really like in Nashville and we'll be working on a couple of tunes I plan to have on this album."
As a result of last year's hockey bet for Music Heals therapy program (despite Neil Osborne's confidence, the Vancouver Canucks did not win the Stanley Cup), Garth Richardson is set to produce the next 54-40 album.
So far, Osborne says the band has four songs that are nearly finished and several more they're working on.
But for Saturday night, the focus is on the songs they've written together.
"We're coming out there to sing in the sunshine," Farrell says.