Album review: Hussy Hicks | On The Boundaries (collaboration with Raphael White)

With their new record, ‘On The Boundaries’, much heralded Gold Coast duo Hussy Hicks (Julz Parker and Leesa Gentz) have taken another bold step forward in their musical evolution.

The versatile ladies have previously proved adept hands at expertly channeling a broad range of styles at the rootsier end of the musical spectrum, with their previous release, ‘Lucky Joe’s Wine And Other Tales From Dog River’, being recorded with noted producer Rick Hirsh in Alabama.

This time around they’ve taken a very different approach, choosing to collaborate with London producer Raphael White to deliver more of a ‘studio’ album. Less raw and ‘in the moment’ than previous recordings, ‘On The Boundaries’ incorporates a host of vocal and instrumental layering, electronic touches and studio effects and captures the band at their most sonically adventurous. The album sits together as a complete listening experience, designed to take listeners on an uninterrupted musical journey.

Highlights across the album are many. ‘Take Me At My Word’ commences with a distant bird cry before dissolving into a moving, gospel tinged lament, with gorgeously layered vocals in the chorus.

‘Silence Creeping’ is a slow burning, rock tinged number with gutsy vocals augmented by warm keyboard driven atmospherics flitting between the shadows.

While ‘The Pen The Light The Hope’ starts with a ghostly, echo-twang guitar motif before boldly morphing into an electro-rock work out with a memorable chorus and a retro-future vibe you can both move and sing along to.

Things then enter more serene territory with ‘Fig Tree’, a gorgeous, plaintive ballad featuring a simple guitar accompaniment and a moving vocal performance, with a few subtle washes of ghostly, ethereal keyboards bubbling away under the surface.

‘Keep Fighting’ is a percussive heavy slice of effects driven wonderment, which rotates back and forth between moody, keyboard heavy electro and funky, dance driven choruses, simultaneously catchy and edgy. And ‘Matter Of Fact’ is a steadily creeping, electro-funk-reggae workout which starts out stripped back and moody before building intensity with some searing guitar interjections from Parker.

‘Inside This Room’ carries the torch of Leonard Cohen in its gently unwinding guitar and keyboard driven oeuvre and uplifting chorus.

While ‘On The Horizon’ is a triumph of forward gazing horizons, the more straight-up roots approach to their song craft still bubbles pleasingly away under the studio sheen, so long time fans will have enough to cling onto in order to easily make the jump with the band into these shimmering new waters.

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