Globally inspired Canadian roots ensemble the Bills has been thrilling fans for 20 years with their blend of dancey styles and now the group is set to release their latest album, Trail of Tales, on April 22nd via Borealis Records. This is the first time that all five members of the band have composed songs for an album and the music’s variety ranges from folky to poppy, from funky to jazzy. “There’s never been a Bills album with five songwriters, that’s a first in the history of the band,” says singer/guitarist Chris Frye. “Hopefully it’s bringing out the best we have to offer because we’re truly together as a unit.”
The Bills centered the themes of Trail of Tales around the interaction between humans and the environment and they recorded the album on little Mayne Island off the coast of Vancouver in an idyllic setting to celebrate the beauty of mother earth. That must have induced a great deal of joy and it shows in “Happy Be”, the song we’re premiering today. It’s happy, relaxed vibe is underscored by the playful whistling at the beginning and end of the song and the winsome, melodic clarinet part that darts in and out of the happy-go-lucky vocal lines.
Songwriter Scott White tells PopMatters, “It began as a whistling song, happy go lucky, came pretty naturally. I wrote it down on a flight, initially no lyrics, and I put it aside. But the melody stuck with me, so I put some lyrics to it based upon a nice run in the woods of California, just innocent happiness, not ecstatic, but really nice. The second set of lyrics where written in the van while driving through some beautiful countryside in northern Alberta, the night before we were treated to a most sensational display of the aurora borealis, which was very much still in my consciousness. I worked on the final version of the melody, and the chords while doing a burlesque show in Cologne, Germany, then mailed the demo out to the fellas. Marc helped with getting the mando in there, we made the final harmonic decisions, and that was that. Didn’t take us long to track it, live-off-the-floor pretty much. I got Adrian to play one last little hook I came up with on hornby island, for the accordion, in the scat solo section.”