As it's title - Losing Balance - suggests, the first solo album from Michael Bannerman

was written during a period of "emotional stress and just plain insanity"

Many of the albums 17 songs were written after his mother Janet lost her battle with

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a degenerative disorder involving deterioration of areas of

the brain (Bannerman and his brother Scott, who contributes vocals on several songs on the new

album, released a CD last year to raise funds for research on the little-known disease).

In fact, the Stratford musician says he wrote many of the songs on Losing Balance

as a form of therapy, and never intended them to be released.

"At the time the studio was often used as a place of refuge for me from the outside world,"

he explains. "(The Studio) was the one place that I could go, sit down with my acoustic

and a pen and just make sense of it all, or at least gain some new perspective.

"At other times it was a place where I could crank up the distortion and simply drown it all

out for a while," he adds.

It wasn't until after he had completed the album that Bannerman says he realized the past

four years had been a journey he'd not walked alone, but that he had shared with

many people.

On the inside sleeve of his new album Bannerman explains "Some stories are better understood

once they have been told, and some burdens lighter when there are more hands

to help carry them."

Bannerman says that the album which was recorded at The Music Room in Arkona, features

an "eclectic" mix of songs, ranging in musical styles and lyrical content.

"There's a lot of questions and reflections and looking back. Less to do with my

mother's illness itself and more on the grieving process, looking back over life," he explains.

And while some songs are deeply personal and autobiographical,

others he notes, are works of fiction or a snapshot of someone else's life.

In addition to Bannerman's brother, several Stratford and area musicians

contributed to the new album, including Ali Matthews, Penny Brown,

Andrea Barstad and Glen Teeple.

Bannerman says it was his friends and family who encouraged him to release the songs

to the public, and that he's glad he did. He says several radio stations have picked

up songs off the album and that online album sales have been positive. Locally

the album is available at Treasures.

But what's surprised Bannerman most is just how many people are using his

songs - much like he did writing them - as part of their own grieving process.

He notes that he's received man letters of thanks from fans such

as one woman from Missouri whose father has cancer, who are relating his

lyrics to their own situations.

"That's what I think is neat about the album - a lot of people are relating to it on

different levels," he adds.

Bannerman will be touring internationally later this year, beginning with

stops in Southwestern Ontario.