Review: The Hello Darlins, “The Alders & The Ashes”

The Hello Darlins, “The Alders & The Ashes”

On March 1, Calgary, AB band The Hello Darlins released “The Alders & The Ashes,” a double album follow-up to their breakthrough smash 2020 album, “Go By Feel.” 

A lot has happened for the band and its principal songwriters, Candace Lacina and Mike Little, since they garnered world-wide attention with their debut. The lockdown, Mike’s recovery from a worrisome health issue, the loss of family and friends, an extensive 2023 tour in support of “Go by Feel,” and the rigorous demands placed on them as preeminent, highly sought after studio musicians. 

“The Alders and the Ashes” is a masterfully written and produced sophomore album. For fans eagerly awaiting more material from the songwriting duo and their esteemed bandmates, it is generously playful, soulful, and dare I say, spiritual – a bountiful sonic feast of Americana Roots, Rock and Country. 

Hello Darlins

I had the good fortune of interviewing Candace and Mike just a few weeks ago about the music and the production of the album. With seventeen new songs, it makes a bold statement regarding their artistic commitment to reach the highest standards in their recording career, as well as catching up for lost time. 

Mike Little explained, “Candace actually wrote 35 songs in about a two-to-three-week period, and we whittled it down to 19, putting 17 on the album, but it had started with about 35 either completely or fully completed songs because sometimes Candace will just write a whole song, the music and everything. Sometimes she’ll just come in with a poem or… a story or a sketch, but yeah, there were 35 solid ideas. We could have made a triple album.” 

Striking in their emotional content, the songs are a deep reflection on the passage of time and the loves, values and losses found in everyday life. The first three songs form a powerful trilogy on the challenges and heart break faced through life.  The exceptional “Forgiving Cain and Loving Abel” kicks off the album with a profound insight – that we must hold both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ to see the middle ground where a resolute path dwells. 

Hello Darlins

“These last couple of years were just so life changing, and the title The Alders & the Ashes was kind of about endings and new beginnings and birth and death and growth and change. And, you know, a lot happened in that period of time,” Candace reflects on the inspiration and creation of these songs. “Everything from trying to figure out what the world was going to look like on in this new day and this new season after the pandemic. But we also just walked through some really deep things in life together.”  

“What Is a Broken Heart For?” and the stunning “Sea That Meets the Sky” (featuring JD Edwards) remove any doubts about the energy and drive the band has as a performing unit and as recording specialists. From there on through, the album takes its time with small stories and vignettes, all embraced by a stellar group of musicians and singers – a little country, a little folk, and a whole heartful of soul. 

Recorded at L.A.’s famed United Recording Studios with multi-GRAMMY winning engineer Ross Hogarth and further mixed by Mike Little, the tracks absolutely shimmer with prodigious playing from fellow bandmates, particularly the guitar work of Murray Pulver and Russell Broom. Invited guest vocalists JD Edwards, Dave Fenley, Ruby Friedman, and Martin Sexton add some extra spice to the sauce. 

“The Alders & The Ashes” is a remarkable achievement, one that fortifies Candace Lacina and Mike Little as an unbeatable producer/songwriter duo with a long, exciting career ahead.  

Photo Credit: Artist Website / James May & Libertee May  

Douglas McLean fell in love with music at a very early age and has worked as a musician and songwriter since his early teens. He has a deep love for the written word and has spent his life in pursuit of language as a means to convey what Van Morrison once called “the inarticulate speech of the heart”. He lives deep in the Almaguin Highlands with his wife and their dog. Douglas is active in local radio, recording, producing and writing, in and around Huntsville, Ontario.

His website is:

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