Reviews

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley’s World Full of Blues


By Brian Rock

Virtuoso dobro and guitar pickers Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley explore both the roots and the future of Country and Blues on their third release, World Full of Blues.

The first track, “Born With The Blues,” starts off with furious fingerpicking as Trey Hensley sings in his George Strait meets Merle Haggard voice, “Well, it’s bye, bye Mobile. Hello, Memphis Tennessee.” Musically, the song takes the same journey; as the acoustic guitar/Dobro pairing is suddenly joined by drums, bass and blaring horns. Combining two musical traditions, they create a fresh, vibrant sound that is still true to its roots.

With Ickes on Dobro and Hensley on acoustic guitar, the pair pick on their instruments like they were younger, redheaded stepbrothers – relentlessly. Listening carefully, you can hear the influence of Bluegrass legends Charlie Walker and Jimmy Martin, Rock heroes Duane Allman and Jerry Garcia and Blues masters Lightning Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. Encompassing that diversity of styles, the album is a multifaceted jewel of musical mastery.

Vince Gill joins them on their spirited cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Brown Eyed Woman.” “Thirty Days” plays like a souped-up ode to Jim Croce’s funky Folk hit, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.” “Nobody Can Tell Me I Can’t” incorporates Dixieland melodies to express their independence as they sing, “I was born in the land of the free. Whatever I do is up to me.” “Rugged Road” is an urgent paced, Soul-tinged cover of Robben Ford’s Jazz number. The intro to “World Full Of Blues” is pure John Lee Hooker before giving way to a Gospel inspired litany of the problems that plague modern society – with an assist from Blues legend Taj Mahal.

The duo also knows how to down-gear for more traditional Country tunes.  “I’m Here But I’m Lonely” recalls the intimacy of Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger album as Hensley realizes, “your heart’s not with me tonight.” “There’s Always Something To Remind Me Of You,” evokes George Jones at his most heartbreakingly earnest. “Suzanne” adds some Memphis Horns flavor to the Country Blues rhythms. “Both Ends Of My Rainbow” is a tight, taught reimagining of Appalachian Country Blues.

Ickes & Hensley are masters of the finger picking style of guitar. With an encyclopedic knowledge of all who came before them, they embrace their musical roots. And when they feel the urge to cut loose, it is nothing short of acoustic pyrotechnics. In short, World Full of Blues is full of musical magic.

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Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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