Much loved Gold Coast duo Hussy Hicks, Julz Parker on vocals, guitar and percussion and Leesa Gentz on vocals and percussion, have marked a shift in their sonic template with the release of their recent mini-album, Lucky Joe’s Wine and other tales from Dog River.
Embracing a love of traditional American musical forms, from dusty roots and alternative country through to spritely bluegrass and surf-inflected instrumentals, the record was put together deep in the heart of Dixie, with the girls decamping to the cotton picking state of Alabama. There they collaborated with a bunch of talented local musicians as well as legendary producer Rick Hirsch, who has worked with artists of the calibre of Greg Allman and Joan Armatrading.
Opening track Flying soars majestically off the tarmac, an uplifting ballad which highlights the girls’ warm vocal presence. That Old Heartache is an echo drenched, mandolin-inflected number which invokes a restless spirit of wandering spooky backroads. Look What You’ve Done is mid tempo and moody and features shimmering guitar work from Parker and a gutsy vocal performance from Gentz.
Title track Lucky Joe’s Wine, inspired by the duo’s European touring schedule, delivers a rollicking dose of surf instrumental goodness with a dash of bluegrass, a place where their coastal roots meld pleasingly with their newfound southern-channeling sound.
Slow Train reduces the pace again, while Roll Along is a big-hearted, acoustic guitar driven singalong rounded out with an urgent, Irish inflected guitar break.
And the album concludes impressively on the six-minute plus Three Rainbows, which meanders along to a loping, reggae infused vibe. To these ears it invoked memories of Maxi Priest’s cover of Cat Steven’s Wild World in the chorus. A Latino-tinged guitar break burns briefly at the tail end of the track before flickering out in the hazy distance.
While the Gold Coast may be the Hussy Hicks’ spiritual home, an impressive worldliness in sound and musical experience colours Lucky Joe’s Wine and other tales from Dog River, ensuring a consistently impressive listening experience.