“GREETINGS FROM” - THE DILL (VINYL)
THE DILL is a rock 'n' roller taking his time.
Over the past 20 years, Dylan “The Dill” Hudecki has co-founded the post-rock duo Junior Blue with Broken Social Scene drummer Justin Peroff; toured the world with Toronto power-pop perennials By Divine Right; fronted the Hamilton Music Award-winning band Cowlick; and played bass for High Kites. He’s scored films and commercials, remixed songs, and recently made piano- and synth-based ambient music as Awesollator. Oh, and he’s also managed to hold down a day job as a school teacher while raising three kids.
Now, he’s finally made his first solo record—and to say it’s been a long time coming would be a gross understatement. On the surface, Greetings From may appear to be a typical 12-song solo singer/songwriter effort—but it’s actually the greatest-hits distillation of an unprecedented recording and visual-art project that stretches back nearly two decades. Since 2000, The Dill has been stockpiling songs that drew from personal experience, but were brought to life through communal improvisation. With a little help from his many friends—ranging from the unsung heroes in his hometown of Hamilton to some of the biggest names in Canadian indie-rock—The Dill had, by 2016, amassed a total of 52 songs, which he debuted online one at a time on a weekly basis over the course of that year. As for a physical release, well, that could only take one possible form—as a deck of playing cards, of course, with each of the 52 tracks represented by an original, thematic image created specially for the project by cast of 45 Canadian visual artists. "It’s my magnum opus,” says The Dill of his 52-storey tower of song. “It was a giant snowball I rolled down the hill with lots of my friends."
But now, that giant snowball is getting chiseled down into tidy, ice-cube-tray portions. Released on the new Elora, Ontario-based label, “Dead Radio, Love” (from the same folks who put on the annual Elora Riverfest), Greetings From selects 12 highlights from the playing-card project for a traditional release on vinyl. But even in condensed form, Greetings From covers vast musical terrain, from the cosmic, Air-style soft rock of “1000 Days” to the brassy, hand-clapped soul of “Emotional Guarantee” to the bossa-nova sway of “Our Favourite Song.” And the guest list here reads like the nominee roll call at a Polaris Music Prize gala: Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene massages the banjo-plucked foot-stomper “Did I Drop the Ball or Miss the Boat” with warm Wurlitzer tones; Born Ruffians’ Luke Lalonde contributes ghostly backing vocals to the drifting acoustic reverie “I Can’t Read Your Mind (But I Can Daydream)”; and Sarah Harmer plays the June to The Dill’s Johnny over the fuzzy twang of “I Love You in Kenora.” And true to the project’s collaborative spirit, The Dill cedes the spotlight on “Stop Time” to Arkells’ Max Kerman, who sashays through this ‘50s-inspired doo-wop ballad like some bygone matinee idol.
But for all the playful eclecticism in effect here, the songs on Greetings From are united by The Dill’s wry, sobering observations on navigating life’s great disappointments. And as this whole experience has shown him, good things do come to those who wait.
"It's been a labour of love,” The Dill says. “As fate would have it, it was a 16-year labour, so this baby is coming out an adolescent already."