Legendary American songwriter Kris Kristofferson once wrote about fumbling in his closet to find his “cleanest dirty shirt.” Kristofferson avoided doing the laundry, but washing one’s clothes is a job most do, though few enjoy. Not so for Geraldine Hollett, one third of the Newfoundland trio The Once.

“I’ve never been more excited doing laundry as I am for this trip!,” laughs the lead singer and songwriter.

Hollett was chatting a couple of weeks before the trio embarked on a short North American tour – a warm-up for a world tour with label-mate Passenger to promote its major-label debut album Departures, released on Nettwerk Records. The world tour started in Antwerp, Belgium and took The Once to many new locales throughout central Europe, Scandinavia, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. The experience is so new Hollett didn’t even know what she’d do during her downtime.

The album is called Departures, but “right now I feel like we’ve arrived,” says Geraldine Hollett of The Once.

“Maybe I’ll just lie in the grass and stare up at the sky.”

Three years since the band’s last record, the bulk of the songs were already recorded when the group signed with Nettwerk. Departures showcases a mix of styles, reflecting the trio’s eclectic influences. Besides Hollett, The Once includes multi-instrumentalists and co-writers Andrew Dale and Phil Churchill. Like the bands’ previous releases, the new record is infused with a Newfoundland spirit that encourages audience participation. The overarching theme is one of taking stock: where one’s heading, where one’s been, and the role of fate in one’s life. “We Are All Running” epitomizes this.

“All of us have lost our dads,” Hollett says. “That song is about dealing with the big stuff as quickly as possible so you can get back on track with your life.”

One of the other highlights is a cover of the Elvis Presley classic, “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Hollett explains how this classic ended up on Departures.

“We were in Nashville last year to audition to play venues in the United States and they had a list of songs we had to sing. This song was one of the ones we picked. I’m not sure if you’ve been to Newfoundland, but Elvis has been on the cover of the Herald something like 42 times. The song worked so well, we just kept doing it.”

It’s ironic, Hollett says, that the new album is called Departures because it feels in sharp contrast to where the band currently sits on its musical journey.

“Right now I feel like we’ve arrived,” she says.

Track Record

  • The Once has won three Canadian Folk Music Awards, two East Coast Music Awards, and multiple Music Newfoundland & Labrador Awards
  • Row Upon Row of the People They Know was nominated for a JUNO Award
  • The band won the Newfoundland & Labrador Art Council Artist of the Year Award in 2013

Nettwerk One Music
The Once (2009), Row Upon Row of the People They Know (2011), This is a Christmas Album (2012), Departures (2014)
Visit www.theonce.ca
SOCAN members since 2009 (Hollett, Dale), 2010 (Churchill)