After making one of the biggest breakthroughs on the international Americana scene with their debut album Go By Feel, Canadian country/roots collective The Hello Darlins is gearing up to return with an even more ambitious collection of material for its official sophomore release, The Alders & The Ashes, due early in 2024.
The group, led by Romani-Canadian musician Candace Lacina and world-renowned Hammond B3 player Mike Little, The Hello Darlins consist of some of Canada’s most in-demand session musicians who came together to forge a distinct hybrid of country, gospel and blues.
After three European Tours that included an Americanafest-UK showcase and a support slot with Lucinda Williams at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, as well as a 36-date cross-Canadian tour with blues-roots icon Matt Andersen with sold-out stops at Massey Hall and National Arts Centre along the way, The Hello Darlins are just getting started.
The latest taste of their new music is the single “Don’t You Fall,” an upbeat, radio-friendly track that showcases Candace’s unmistakable vocals. The song delivers a message to persevere through hard times by enjoying the wonder of life, and the love and support of those closest to us. “I wrote it after a dream,” Candace says. “I was watching someone have a conversation with an old tree and they were both saying the same thing to each another: ‘Hold on, friend. You’ve seen so much, but don’t resign, because there is still so much more.’”
The video for “Don’t You Fall” is a playful variation on the same theme. “As a society, we’re so obsessed with preserving our youth, but age is just a relative concept,” says Candace, who conceptualized and created the video based on animation techniques often used in children’s television programs from the 1960s and ‘70s. “Who didn’t love Romper Room, Mr. Dressup, Mr. Rogers, or Sesame Street,” she says. “Kindergarten is the age of innocence and imagination—you never think about getting old when you’re five.”
The Alders & The Ashes will be a double-length album consisting of 17 songs laid down at L.A.’s famed United Recording with multiple Grammy-winning engineer Ross Hogarth (R.E.M., Hall & Oates, John Mellencamp, John Fogerty). According to Mike Little, “You could FEEL the energy of the studio. Music was in the ether, in the walls. It was an honor to be in a space creating our music where so many of our heroes like Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young and The Doors stood—musicians who were part of creating the original ‘Americana’ legacy and sound.”
Additionally, the rhythm section for the sessions consisted of bassist Bob Glaub (Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Warren Zevon) and drummer Chad Cromwell (Neil Young, Brian Wilson, Bonnie Raitt). In all, it was a magical experience for Candace, Mike, and the third member of The Hello Darlins’ creative core, guitarist/collaborator Murray Pulver. Some tracks are reminiscent of Go By Feel—heartfelt and emotional, while others are up-tempo blues, bluegrass, Southern rock-inspired songs that present a more complete picture of the band’s live show.
Candace says, “We haven't changed as people or artists, but our hearts have grown so much in the past year. Among some of the excitement and joy, we’ve also had quite a few challenges and heartaches to process, such as losing loved ones and overcoming other hurdles that life presented. That’s where music really matters.”
Indeed, making music influenced by times of joy and sorrow is natural for Candace and Mike, as both come from families with long musical traditions within Canada. With millions of streams and three Canadian Folk Music Awards nominations generated by Go By Feel, it all adds up to a lot of anticipation for The Alders & The Ashes—and the full-fledged arrival of a band that proudly represents the “North” within the Americana genre.