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Over the past six years, The Once has been quietly making a name for themselves in their native Canada. The Newfoundland-based band has collected a trio of Canadian Folk Music Awards, numerous Music NL awards, was named Artist of the Year by the Newfoundland & Labrador Art Council and has earned not one, but two JUNO nominations for best Roots/Traditional album, the most recent in acknowledgement of their latest release, Departures.
The Once’s first album actually came about due to a stroke of serendipity. A stranger at a show was so impressed that he offered them $5000 to record an album. Their award-winning self-titled debut was released by the Canadian label Borealis Records as was its follow-up Row Upon Row Of The People They Know, for which they received their first JUNO nomination. The band had good fortune smile on them again when Nettwerk Records CEO Terry McBride heard them perform at the Vancouver Celtic Fest. He was so charmed that he quickly signed The Once to his label. Departures was released on the Nettwerk label in August 2014 and since then The Once has performed over 140 shows in 17 countries – half of which were in support of international pop-sensation Passenger’s world tour.
Departures proves to be a fitting title for this album and not just because of the band’s now intimate familiarity with most major airports worldwide. The songs themselves often touch upon a sense of departure - whether it is in a poignant tribute to someone who has died, a vivid tale of murder, a song to a loved one left behind, or a tune about leaving someone. The album title also reflects somewhat of a musical departure for The Once. Although the band has come out of Newfoundland’s Celtic-inspired traditional music community, Geri, Phil, and Andrew have drawn upon a wide range of musical influences in the crafting of their latest offering. Despite the many changes, however, The Once remains rooted in its essential musical elements – Hollett’s incandescent voice, the trio’s gorgeous harmonies and the spirited acoustic instrumentation supplied by Phil and Andrew.
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