Lost in Pennsylvania
Rating: 7 (out of 10)
Independent Release | 2005
The songs of The Hickories are stones cast into water with the twitch of a wrist. Not to flutter and oscillate, settling gently to the bottom, but in a direct veering motion with the intent of striking bottom: the soul, the mind, the heart.
Music normally complies with its easily attainable goal of serving as a diversion, a corollary event seeking not to interfere with serpentine traffic navigation or the pursuit of exercise and fitness as it streams from iPod lobes. The Hickories planted both my heels in the pavement, the depths to which their music reached. Instinctively, I rifled through the abscesses of memory to pair mind to music, the scoring of prior events that rush to the cortex when goaded by instrument.
Lost in Pennsylvania, their all-encompassing album, couples both the superfluous and the profound. Containing songs of both deep-reaching magnitude and enjoyment bordering on whimsy, the mixture is a striking delivery of their body of work. Being a newly formed and evolving band, not all of their music attains a uniform exceptional quality, but The Hickories succeed through the delivery of music that utilizes the depth and range of their collective voices. Vocalists Michelle Volpe and Meghan Sharp intertwine their contrasting pitches in a manner too relaxed to appear orchestrated, yet impressive in its simplicity and meaning, the snaking handshake of two kite ribbons in a blustery sky. The cumulative voice of The Hickories melts around the instrumental support, which recognizes the mastery of the vocal qualities of the band and supports the effort in a subordinate role. The accompaniment serves as a steering mechanism that allows the vocals to ebb, stray, and wind, while always returning to conclude in a manner befitting the musical subject, be it serious or lighthearted.
While not capturing the interest of the listener through the employ of affronting beats or an instrumental display of immense talent, The Hickories succeed in the associative power delivered by their sound. Their efforts engage the listener to recall life events that easily pair to the music. The strains of melancholy in their songs evoke images of failed relationships, loss of loved ones, yet are empathetic as they convey multiple voices and attitudes, and allow the listener to recall both sadness and the resulting hope for escaping sadness, and moving on. The music is truly malleable, to be worn by enthusiasts both for its quality and the ease of which it relates to experiences.
Creation of a sound that shares the experiences of a band, while attaching to an audience is difficult, as no two people think or act in complete unison. The Hickories‚Äô Lost in Pennsylvania trumps the challenge by delivering layered tomes penetrating the perimeter where music normally resides to invoke thought and recall and to become a functioning portion of the personality of the listener.