Originally known as Wayward Daughter, Brooklyn-based group Darlin Darlin was born from notebook scribbles, heartache, joy, laughter and other assorted experiences that singer-guitarist Joanie Leon Guerrero had while growing up in Williamsburg, Virginia. Influenced by musicians such as Dolly Parton, Townes Van Zandt and Loretta Lynn, Leon Guerrero deals in bucolic heroism and a beautifully pastoral twang. And while her music is indebted to these artists, providing a familiar shake and swagger, she also offers up a series of original and remarkable country revelations which cling to her persuasive personality like dew in the early morning hours.
Over the years, she has lent her voice to a handful of Brooklyn bands and projects -- which, in turn, has given her access to musicians whose melodic ideologies perfectly match hers. This includes Brett Parnell, now her husband, who handles pedal-steel guitar, mandolin and vocal harmonies, giving her songs room to breathe and maneuver through their own particular rural instincts. Eventually, percussionist Evan Mitchell (of Ghastly City Sleep and Los Encantados), bassist Ben Mattison (of King Time) and, most recently, guitarist Elias Blumm all signed on to help shape and frame Leon Guerrero's songs through a latticework of communal musical relationships and associations.
Darlin Darlin will release a split EP with fellow New York band Stephen Karl & Handsome Animals via Soft Landing Records on May 4. Their shared affection for all things country and folk shines through in their refreshingly earnest rambles and stomps. The two bands have performed together and share a kinship that goes beyond music -- it's a personal and professional connection that announces itself through a shared rhythmic DNA.
In advance of the EP's release this week, Darlin Darlin has shared a new single, "Easy," and it possesses a tremulous devastation, delivering a wracking emotional impact that blindsides you with both it fragility and fierceness. The drums shuffle along as the guitars glimmer in the cool light of the evening, and Leon Guerrero's voice shines like the moon as it guides her listeners through the encroaching darkness. There's a chill in the air, and "Easy" effortlessly captures that hesitant anxiety. Much has been made of the resurgence of "authentic" country music in recent years (artists such as Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton or Anderson East have gained notable attention), but Darlin Darlin isn't interested in latching on to any perceived trends. Their gaze goes back decades to a time when storytelling, experiences and emotions were so intrinsically entangled that you could never have one without the others.