We know that there are thousands of great Canadian musicians out there, hundreds of great Canadian bands too, but how often do we find ourselves throwing the words Canadian Super Groups around? Not very often, right? And I’m sure that upon hearing those three words, indie-rock giants such as Broken Social Scene, Dwayne Gretzky, and The New Pornographers are some of the most popular that spring to mind (hey, they’ve all graced our pages over the last few years too). But what happens when a handful of Canadian studio session musicians decide to create a folk-roots super group? The answer is pretty simple. Allow me to introduce The Hello Darlins, whose musical talents could quickly make this particular ensemble the next household name.
The concept of The Hello Darlins first took shape back in 2016 when Calgary-based vocalist/producer Candace Lacina and keyboardist/producer Mike Little crossed paths after first meeting at a recording studio six years earlier. Having worked on separate projects alongside popular artists such as Shania Twain and B.B. King, Lacina and Little reconnected with a mutual desire to create their own project, pooling their resources to recruit many of their studio session-player friends along the way. “We thought it would be fun to put together a band with long-time, professional musicians who are often the people ‘behind the songs’ you hear on the radio,” Candace recalls. “It’s a ‘collective’ with friends and special guests. It’s like the Broken Social Scene of Americana.” “We write and play for a lot of great artists and we’ve always been IN the band,” adds Mike. “It’s fun to have a killer project with our friends, who also happen to be really incredible musicians.”
In addition to many hours spent in their own studio, The Hello Darlins have also split time recording at both Calgary’s Studio D and Winnipeg’s Stereobus Recording, joined by their friend and co-producer Murray Pulver (Crash Test Dummies, The Bros. Landreth), and GRAMMY award winning engineer Mike Poole (Robert Plant, Patty Griffin). “Right away, the combination of the songs and harmonies, and the authenticity of playing with real instruments really resonated,” Mike shares. “We all felt that this was something special.” “We decided on Still Waters as the first single because it’s about patience, resolve, and most importantly connection with one another,” Candace adds. And spinning this one for the first time, I would wholeheartedly concur that this is certainly an impressive debut for The Hello Darlins.
Opening with some heart-warming guitar strings, Lacina’s alluring vocals are quickly discovered during the opening verse: “When I’m restless / When I’m broken / When my heart’s been sinking heavy like a stone / From the darkness / In the distance / There’s an answer like a lighthouse in a storm.” The perfectly timed inclusion of both piano and steel soon follow, joining the slow-simmering vocals and instrumentation, and leaving no doubt that these folks know their trade well. The only way they could possibly raise their game is to maybe add in some killer lines from an equally talented guest vocalist. Oh wait, they have that base covered too – don’t tell me you missed the “(feat. Matt Andersen)” tagline earlier?
“I’m the angel / I’m the sinner / Sailing forward on the highs and every low / Let me rest there / By the river / With my reflection that nobody really knows,” recites the Perth-Andover, NB native, delivered with the distinct soul and blues tinged vocals that leaves no doubt of his arrival. “It’s deeply meaningful that our friend Matt Andersen is sharing this track,” offers Candace. “When we first heard him sing the song, I burst into tears! It’s like he breaks your heart, and gives you hope all at the same time.” Cue both voices intertwining to lead us into an explosively beautiful, and emotionally charged chorus: “Still waters won’t you carry me home / Still waters give me peace in my soul / When I’m weary and I can’t go on / Still waters gonna carry me home.”
“The song is about reflection, hope and perseverance during challenging times,” Candace offers in closing; her own personal take on the sudden impact of COVID-19, and having to reschedule their plans for an album release and cross-country tour this year. “We believe music is healing and has the power to connect from the heart.” An impressive debut single from an emerging band that have already staked their claim within the Super Group community – we eagerly await more from Candace, Mike, and as many friends as they wish to bring to the party.