Based in Nashville, Those Darlins create songs that echo songs of decades past but don’t sound stale or derivative. “Boy” summons sonic memories of ‘60s girl groups and “Travelin’ Man”-era Ricky Nelson. “Screws Get Loose” reflects Joan Jett in early ‘80s swagger. “Mystic Mind” resurrects the psychedelic drone of Norman Greenbaum’s 1970 hit, “Spirit in the Sky.”
“We’re mostly influenced by music that’s pre-’90s,” Jessi Wariner, aka Jessi Darlin, said from Music City. “A lot of ‘60s and ‘70s and ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll. We have a good bit of awareness of keeping things timeless. We always think about, 'Will this stand up? Will this even make sense to someone 20 years from now?’ “
Those Darlins released their second CD, Screws Get Loose, in March. In June, Rolling Stone named the group a band to watch and NPR’s All Things Considered gave Screws Get Loose a great review. Other publications, including Spin and The Village Voice, praised it, too.
“Pretty cool,” Wariner said of the positive response.
Those Darlins made another recent inroad into pop culture when “Red Light Love,” a song from the band’s CD debut, became the soundtrack for a Kia Sorento TV commercial.
Wariner, Kelley Anderson and Nikki Kvarnes, all of whom adopted Darlin as a stage name, formed Those Darlins in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in 2006. They were listening to classic country at the time and performing the same.
At first, the trio performed strictly for fun. But then offers came for the group to perform in public. After specializing in traditional country songs for a few months, they took a giant step in their musical development by writing their first original song.
“We were like, 'Oh, this is our song!’ “ Wariner remembered. “And we wrote more songs and started exploring what we could do with what we had.”
Those Darlins appeared at a few venues in Murfreesboro but soon found more opportunities in nearby Nashville.
“That’s where we gained a real crowd,” Wariner said. “We’re from Murfreesboro, but we usually said we were from Nashville. It’s almost the same thing, really. And people in Murfreesboro hang out in Nashville all the time.”
Wariner sees much growth in the band’s musicianship since 2006, thanks in part to extensive touring and the group’s hunderds of performances.
“We’ve just gotten better at everything,” she said. “Much better as musicians, much more together as a band. You can’t help but learn if you’re always playing.”
The band’s growth shows in its songwriting, too. Writing songs for Screws Get Loose was much easier than composing material for the band’s self-titled CD debut, released in 2009.
“I didn’t second guess myself so much this time,” Wariner said. “I went, 'Oh, this is a good part. Oh, I know what this next part’ll be.’ Whereas before it’d be like, ahhhh. It took so much longer. I didn’t know if things were good or not.”
Touring as much as they do, Those Darlins are building audiences throughout the country.
“Most of the time, every time we go back it builds and builds,” Wariner said. “Some places you hit it off right off the bat.”
The group’s recent appearance at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans was its best headlining show there yet.
“That was so much fun,” Wariner said. “I love that place.”
Those Darlins’ upcoming show at Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge is a return appearance there, following an earlier supporting act spot at the Highland Road club. It’s also the band’s first headlining show at Spanish Moon, another sign that Those Darlins are on the rise.