Darlingside. Photo by Shervin Lainez

Darlingside, the indie-folk band based mostly in Massachusetts, released its fourth album, “Everything Is Alive,” in July and will be playing several tunes from it on Thursday in Portland.

The band is on the cusp of its 15th anniversary and continues to mesmerize with lush harmonies and poetic lyrics. Seeing them live is a melt-into-the-floor experience.

Darlingside is comprised of Don Mitchell (vocals, guitar), Auyon Mukharji (vocals, mandolin, violin), Harris Paseltiner (vocals, cello, guitar) and David Senft (vocals, bass). Senft, while still a full-time member of Darlingside, has stepped aside from touring.

Rather than replace him, the touring version of Darlingside is a six-piece band with Ben Burns (drums, percussion), Deni Hlavinka (keys, vocals) and Molly Parden (bass, vocals). All three of them played on “Everything Is Alive.”

Unlike past albums, there are several songs on the latest that feature a lead singer, like “Green Light,” “Can’t Help Falling Apart” and “Sea Dogs.” That last one, for clarity’s sake, is not about our beloved baseball team but rather about clouds and contemplating life’s mysteries.

Those signature Darlingside harmonies are, however, alive and well on tracks like “Lose The Keys” and the dreamy “Eliza I See.”


Mitchell, whom I spoke with just before the band’s current leg of tour dates, said that “Green Light and “Right Friend” are among the new songs the band enjoys playing live because the extra musicians enable Darlingside to perform the tracks in a unique way. “Being able to flesh out and do some different things is really fun,” he said.

Darlingside album cover for “Everything Is Alive.” Image courtesy of Thirty Tigers/The Orchard

I told Mitchell that I appreciated the choices of “Green Light” as the opening track (with the line, “May you drift in the current of the day you’re swimming thorough”) and “The Breaking Of The Day” as the final one (with the line, “May the road rise to meet you”). Both songs have an almost prayer-like feeling to them.

“We had pretty early on identified that similarity between the songs, which was sort of a convergent evolution thing. It just kind of came about organically, and there’s a bookend quality to them,” he said.

The members of Darlingside have always written songs together, though during the pandemic, when many of the new songs were written, they weren’t able to be in the same room. Thankfully, technology made collaborating remotely feasible. Mitchell said they made it work, and it didn’t change the way the band’s songs come together. “Part of the joy of writing with four people is that it’s not always clear exactly where something originated, it kind of just comes to be.”

Mitchell said that during the period of time when band members were separated, a light-hearted but effective songwriting accountability system was deployed. Each week, each member was paired with another one and had a week to bring that person a song (and vice versa). If you were late, you owed that person $20. “It could be gibberish, but you had to be able to present it in some format,” he said. Mitchell said this exercise actually took the pressure off of them to create perfect songs and kept everyone creatively active. “We came out of it with something like 25 or 30 songs.”

Mitchell said about two-thirds of the songs at the Portland show will be new. As for older material, “White Horse” from “Birds Say” and the title track of “Extralife” are my personal setlist hopefuls.

Portland House of Music is an intimate space, so my advice is that you get your tickets soon.

Darlingside with Field Guide
7:30 p.m. Thursday. Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., $20 in advance, $25 day of show, 21-plus. statetheatreportland.com

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