Creemore, Ont. now has more than a brewery to brag out. In this languorous village of about 1,300 or so inhabitants, the currents of life move slowly and that’s just the way poetic balladeer Justin Hines likes it.
Hines, who loves the relaxed pace of life in the rolling hills and stirring landscape, plans to tear himself away for a concert at St. Albert’s Arden Theatre on Friday, Feb. 25.
He last performed at the intimate venue in September 2009 to a packed house that gave him a thunderous standing ovation. Not only did his commanding tenor voice blend pop-rock-folk elements in a refreshing way, but also his message of hope was so heartfelt it brought tears to many people’s eyes.
You see, the wheelchair-bound Hines has Larsen’s syndrome, an inherited condition with abnormal bone and connective tissue that causes joints to dislocate easily.
While other boys his age were out playing soccer and hockey, Hines grew up listening to classic tunes on his father’s old jukebox. Drawing inspiration from greats such as James Taylor, Cat Stevens and Jim Croce helped him cope with life.
Today, the singer’s expressive pipes are instantly identifiable — powerful, warm and acrobatic, radiating a complex range of emotions from sublime joy to soulful angst.
Come April 26, Hines releases his third album, Momentarily, recorded at Toronto’s Canterbury Sound and Orange Lounge. Producer Justin Abedin, a long-time friend, also helmed Hines’ previous two albums of original tunes, Sides and Chasing Silver.
“Lyrically, Momentarily has broader topics. There’s a little self-doubt in the songs, but I’m trying to be hopeful. I’m trying to explore more topics and feelings all people have,” Hines says.
The first single Tell Me I’m Wrong, inspired by a philosophical discussion at a weekend getaway, will be released just before the concert.
“It’s about losing faith in yourself and looking to others for empathy. Musically it feels more full. It’s layered with more instrumental elements and I’m using different parts of the voice — a falsetto for instance.”
Ironically, Hines wrote the title track about eight years ago. But the slow ballad didn’t fit into any projects at the time. Sung in a ‘40s and ‘50s crooning style, “it essentially talks about running away from certain things, about breaking up and dealing with the regret and also the benefits.”
The album itself has been his longest ride yet — almost 18 months in the making. “We wanted to produce a quality album. We wanted to avoid filler songs.”
Joining Hines is his steadfast three-piece backup: Justin Abedin (guitar), Kevin Adamson (piano) and Kevin Fox (multi-instrumentalist). “I’ll even be playing the harmonica, reinventing a couple of older songs.”
“The funny thing about music is that it’s all subjective and about perception.”
Friday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $30. Call 780-420-1757 or purchase online at: www.ticketmaster.ca