Justin Hines

Justin Hines


Through his overall mantra of looking for hope to shine through in all things, singer/songwriter Justin Hines helps people see the beauty in the light in the remarkable everyday realities of their existence, whatever their individual journey might be.


In talking about his music, singer-songwriter Justin Hines says, “Honestly, I don’t remember wanting to do anything else, period.” That sense of it being something as essential as breathing emanates from every track on his soul-searching debut album, Sides. Listening to it is an experience akin to that mystical phenomenon of everyday life when you meet someone new but, somehow, feel as if you’ve known them forever. And, while there’s a familiarity, a timelessness to Justin’s music, it’s also marked by a lean, contemporary sound and distinctly postmodern sensibility as direct and authentic as the ideas and emotions the Toronto native expresses with his literate song craft.Justin absorbed his musical gifts from his family – “My dad plays a mean folk guitar,” he says, “and my mom has a great voice. She and her mom would sing old school Irish folk songs.” Justin’s been told that as a baby, he was carrying a tune before he was talking, and remembers that, “My grandmother Margaret always had this thing that I was going to be a singer. She had me singing in church and for relatives, so any stage fright left me early.” There was also the influence of an inanimate – but equally musical – fixture of the household, a jukebox of his dad’s, loaded with old 45s. He’d sit in front of it for hours, listening to every song, note for note. It’s still in his basement, and it still inspires Hines with classic recordings by artists including James Taylor, Willie Nelson, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce and Harry Chapin. Echoes of these and other legendary artists and consummate singer-songwriters resonate throughout Sides. “Sometimes,” says Justin, “I feel like I was born in the wrong era.” At the same time, though, shades of contemporaries including Damien Rice and Ron Sexsmith are also heard, and for all of the album’s grace and maturity – which it has in spades – it’s clearly a young man’s missive. Ardent, searching and eloquent, it spotlights the prodigious talents that caused Justin, at age 14, to win a radio contest to sing the Canadian national anthem at a Toronto Raptors game (which led to national recognition and performances at many major telethons and events). Chosen out of hundreds of entrants, Justin recalls, “I was the first person to try out, and later they told me they never thought about picking anybody else. My first gig was in front of 17,000 people.”Showcasing the more intimate elements of Hines’ artistry, Sides’ fourteen tracks were culled from more than thirty he composed over the past several years, when he feels he came into his own as a songwriter – “I’ve done a lot of living, learning and growing in that time,” Justin says. Stripped-down but wrapped with warm melodies, the album’s unadorned, all-acoustic instrumentation offers an elegantly sparse backdrop for Justin’s soulful vocals. Hines had a very clear idea of where he wanted to go with the record – “I made a conscious effort to abandon any trends, I just wanted to do something that was very honest. I wanted to just be Justin, whatever that was.” It was, and is, a classic sounding confessional that reaches out to listeners with songs drawn from life, both highs and lows, that resonate with the bond of shared experience by virtue of his gentle but powerful truth telling.The album evolved through Hines’ collaboration with Justin Abedin, one of Toronto’s most respected musicians and producers. Proving himself a master of understated but persuasive production, Abedin also helped assemble an elite group of Toronto-based musicians – Mark Mariash, Drew Birston, Ron Lopata, Kevin Fox, Denis Keldie and Roger Travassos – for tracking sessions at Toronto’s Canterbury Sound. They mixed at the city’s famed Phase One Studios and mastered in NYC with Scott Hull (John Mayer, Steely Dan), capturing the ensemble with pristine clarity. “Our idea,” says Hines, “was for every player to have their part and for each part to be important. We kept it very individual, nothing too over the top or sonically overwhelming.”The title track “Sides,” is a poetic summation of the “glass is half full” worldview that’s a keystone of Justin’s life and art, something embodied consistently in his music. He conveys it here with lines including, “…here on my side, it’s not the dirt on your soles but the diamonds in your eyes” and “it’s not the sun goin’ down it’s just the moon’s time to shine.” “This song came out of the fact that I’m often told my perspective is a tad unique,” says Justin, “I see a different side of things.” Possessed of an unflagging spirit that’s remarkable under any circumstances, Justin is also in part referring to the rare genetic joint condition, Larsen Syndrome, that keeps him wheelchair bound, “Sometimes people find it hard to understand why I would be so positive,” he explains. “I was born into my situation, I don’t know any different, and I feel very fortunate for my family and all the support that I have. I’m hopeful, I don’t dwell on it, and I’ve always looked at it as


April On The Ground

Written By: Justin Hines

It’s nice to know,
I’ve seen the seasons in their glory,
Each one brings a different morning,
To my door.

But still somehow,
I’m looking forward to a sunrise,
When I don’t have to face the storm,
To go outside.

Yeah, that’d be nice.

And here at last,
With a newfound understanding,
All the baggage notwithstanding,
It means no more.

And all is well,
When I’m looking into friendly eyes,
And I hold the hands that keep me warm,
And hang on tight.

That’s my plan,
Yeah, that’s my plan,

‘Cause it’s a fine time for April on the ground,
I’ve never been one for the cold,
And I’d say goodbye to walkways
Lined in white, and knock them down
‘Cause it’s a fine time for April on the ground,

Miles away,
There’s man who’s sad and lonely
His favourite saying is a phoney
While on his knees.

He bids farewell,
To a hardened woman he created,
It been years in the making,
But she’s on her way.

And I think I heard him say,
Yeah, I heard them say,

‘Cause it’s a fine time for April on the ground,
I’ve never been one for the cold,
And I’d say goodbye to walkways
Lined in white, and knock them down
‘Cause it’s a fine time for April on the ground,

‘Cause it’s a fine time for April on the ground,
I’ve never did get used to the cold,
And I’d say goodbye to walkways
Lined in white, and knock them down
‘Cause it’s a fine time for April on the ground,

Wish You Well

Written By: Justin Hines

No darling I can’t take your thirst away,
But I can show you to the sea.
While you’re walking on your path unknown
Say, “Will you think of me?”

But time will tell,
I wish you well
Oh, I wish you well.

To many times I’ve seen those ghosts before,
I’ve watched them dance around your bed.
I would give you all my sleep-filled nights
Just to see you get some rest.

It’s not my place
To try and fill that space
But I can wish you well
Oh, I wish you well.

In times like this,
I tend to ponder all the things we’ll miss
But we can always reminisce

When you come back from the great beyond
With moonlight in your hair
I will meet you where that dark road ends
It won’t be long until we’re there.

And once…once again
We’ll talk about way back when,
Oh, but until then,
I wish you well.

Oh, I wish you well.


LP - "Sides" (2007)

Second single "Wish You Well" reached number 19 on the AC Chart. The song was licensed for the national radio and television campaign for the Walk For Miracles (a national fundraising campaign). Ad placement consisted of prime time slots on many of Canada's major market stations, and resulted in an overwhelming response from viewers coast-to-coast.

First single "April On The Ground" garnered adds at CHFI and CHUM FM Toronto.