Following on from their 2017 GCMA Album Of The Year, ‘On The Boundaries’, much-loved and well-travelled Gold Coast duo Hussy Hicks (singer/song-writer Leesa Gentz and guitarist Julz Parker) return to public consciousness in the form of their sixth long player, ‘Gather Up The People’.
The genesis of the album came together in various locations and with a range of collaborators over the past two years, with Julz stepping up as sole producer and engineer on one of the bands albums for the first time. You can read more about this, as well as other insights into the album, as part of our recent interview with the band.
In turns joyous and defiant, ‘Gather Up The People’ stands as a rousing statement of togetherness which fuses genres such as gospel, traditional folk/roots and experimental blues with a tinge of rock bravado to deliver the duo’s most assured album to date.
This is an album of the times, for the times, shaped within the framework of a world at the mercy of climatic catastrophe, pandemics and purveyors of falsehood and division. This is not to say that the album is overly dark or negative – on the contrary, at its core it’s bound by a common theme of unity. The album’s thematic calling card is laid bare early on, with opening track, ‘Gather Up The People’, an anthemic, mid-tempo delight featuring guest vocals from Alabama singer Krisy Lee and resplendent in lines that bind such as: “the things we share are greater than the things that keep us divided.”
A grunge-soul vibe inflects the shuddering wonderment of ‘Hypothetic Needles’, the soaring guitar work of GCMA ‘artist of the year’ Julz Parker elevating the song into a power packed statement of intent, delivering one of the records most overt ‘rock’ moments.
‘Mountain Peak’ delivers a moody, gospel infused kick, a swampy amalgamation of passionate, aching vocals embellished with some further lashings of searing guitar goodness.
‘The Edge’ sees the band experiment with tone and texture, its fiddle infused folk undertones and soaring vocals rattled with the addition of chains as a percussive instrument (which this writer last heard as an integral element of Melbourne horror-country exponents Graveyard Train.)
Lead-off single ‘Get Ready’ is a rousing slice of sassy, soul-infused protest-gospel with a bristling rock finale which name-checks the legendary Mavis Staples in the line “I’m ready to keep my eyes on the prize like Mavis told us to.”
Another of the albums many highlights is the powerful and moving ‘Hummingbirds Wings’, an ode to human impermanence framed within the spectre of climate change. The track rides on an ethereal, ghostly groove (with those chains again making an appearance) and features subtle piano accompaniment from indigenous songstress Emily Wurramurra, before riding into the sunset off the back of another epic, uplifting Julz guitar solo.
‘Take A Look Over’, a soul infused burner documenting a love gone sour (“I never felt the cold, ‘till I felt your words hit my gut”), features one of Leesa’s most heart wrenching vocal performances.
While final number, ‘Wilson River Blues’, which tells the tale of a devastating 2017 flood at the bands River Cabin studio, delivers a marvellous amalgamation of ancient and modern within its throbbing gospel-soul, a memorable finale to an album that further cements the status of Hussy Hicks as one of this country’s finest roots inflected acts.